Walking fit for benefits

Adding a simple walking program can make a tremendous difference to your health.

We need physical activity in our lives but it is something we often overlook. Centers for Disease Control state that of the 1,440 minutes in each day, just 30 minutes should be spent exercising every day. This could benefit our minds and bodies in many ways.

Walking is a low or no cost form of physical activity. Cost is important for many people because of the financial issues most people face today. It is not necessary to purchase special clothes but it is important to be dressed appropriately for the weather at the time of your walk. If possible, walk during the daylight hours so that you are much easier to be seen by others and be able to see where you are going. If you prefer to walk in the early morning or later in the evening, then carry a flashlight and wear light-colored clothing. Another feature to consider is walking with a friend, for company, encouragement and safety. Walking in a mall, school or a community center are also options that can keep you safe while you exercise.

Becoming fit is the goal, so start out walking slow and gradually increase duration, distance and pace over time. There will be subtle benefits that you will notice as you continue your walking quest:

  • Lower bad cholesterol (LDL)
  • Raise good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Manage weight
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Lower stress
  • Increase energy

Did you know that walking could also slow mental decline? We often think that there are only physical benefits from walking, but studies have shown that it can also benefit our mental health by:

  • Lowering Alzheimer’s risk
  • Improving sleep
  • Improving mood
  • Allowing time for meditation

There are many lifelong benefits to walking, including that it is inexpensive and does not require equipment. Although walking may not be listed as a necessity, it definitely provides lifelong benefits without great expense or equipment. Michigan State University Extension recommends trying to begin by allowing just 30 minutes each day of walking so that you can reap the benefits.

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