A healthy lifestyle is something most people are striving for, but in today’s chaotic world, it can sometimes seem like a challenge to get in the exercise needed for good health. But the good news? Walking can literally help you step toward better health.
These days, fad workouts of all types are often all over the news. We hear about CrossFit, HIIT, Zumba, Pound and many other exercise routines. But one of the more effective routines — and among the easiest to work into your day — remains simply walking.
Getting your walk on doesn’t require any specialized equipment, and you can literally do it anywhere, even in the comfort of your own home. That means it’s not dependent on the gym being open or the weather.
Why should you consider adding regular walks to your routine? Let’s take a look at some ways that walking promotes better health — and how you can fit it into your life.
It’s always best to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. With convenient locations throughout our region, Erlanger primary care and family medicine specialists provide integrated, accessible health care services focused on health promotion, disease prevention, and sports medicine. Learn more today by calling 423-778-DOCS (3627) or see a full list of locations here.
Walking & better health: What’s the connection?
Well, first things first, let’s talk about why it’s worth it to walk. Trust us when we say your health will reap the benefits when you increase your step count and become more active as a walker.
Walking regularly can help you:
- Get to and maintain a healthy weight. Any amount of movement is better than no movement when it comes to your health and your weight. As you begin to move more with a walking routine, you’ll be expending more calories and improving your metabolism, both of which help promote weight loss.
- Prevent certain medical conditions. Along with promoting a healthy weight, a walking routine can also help you prevent a number of diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure. Consider that our increasingly sedentary lifestyle has been tied with an increased risk of medical issues, so it’s only natural that being more active and walking more will help limit that risk.
- Improve your balance. As we get older, our balance tends to diminish, for a variety of reasons. But you can take steps to maintain your balance or improve it by literally taking steps. Combine your walking routine with exercise specifically designed to promote balance for best results.
- Improve your mood. You’ve probably heard that exercise releases positive endorphins that help boost your mood! It’s true. Spending time walking or doing any other type of exercise helps promote that feel-good feeling. Walking offers its own benefits, too, since you can use the time to listen to music or an audiobook, pray, or even meditate, which all have been shown to reduce stress and promote a positive mood.
- Strengthen bones and muscles. Walking is a weight-bearing activity, so when you’re out and active, you’re promoting bone health and strengthening your muscles. Strong bones and muscles are key components of better health.
Beyond the benefits above, walking has also been shown to ease joint pain, boost your immune system and even help keep a sweet tooth under control. That’s a win!
How to boost your walking routine
Any walking — regardless of duration or speed — is beneficial and promotes better health. But if you’re really looking to get a good workout out of walking, there are ways you can boost its benefits.
First, be sure you’re walking the right way. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to walk for health. In order to get the most out of your walk, maintain good posture with your head up, your upper body relaxed and your arms swinging freely.
Aim to walk at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. Doing so will help you easily hit the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
But if you can walk more, do it! You don’t have to get all your walking for the day in at one time. Break it up into chunks throughout your day to not only promote better health but also keep you feeling productive and energetic.
Ready to bump up your calorie burn? Walk a little faster or change up your routine to walk up an incline, whether on hills in your neighborhood or the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be much, but little tweaks can help you get more out of your walk.
Remember that HIIT we mentioned earlier in the blog? You can give it a try while walking. Start walking at a comfortable pace, then pick up the speed for 30-second or 1-minute intervals. Repeat. Research has shown those short bursts of activity to be particularly effective in burning belly fat.
Feeling some after-effects from your latest walk and think you may have sprained an ankle? Stop by one of Erlanger’s Orthopaedic Walk-in Clinics to get checked out. No appointment is needed.