Walking helps prevent chronic disease

Walking can help address many health issues. Walking is a healthy way to promote disease prevention and management.

Increasing your physical activity by walking is an important step towards a healthier life. People who are physically active can live longer and have a lower risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. If you are currently inactive, a walking program can be a good way to increase physical activity. Doing any physical activity is better than doing none.

Specific chronic disease and the benefits of walking include:

Type 2 diabetes and obesity

  • Walking lowers both blood glucose and insulin resistance.  On the other hand, sitting at work, driving or watching TV for long periods of time raises the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Walking helps weight loss and weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight is one preventative against chronic disease.

Heart disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics and whites. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Walking is promoted by the American Heart Association (AHA),which recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day and at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week to derive benefits.


  • After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death. Like the AHA, the American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense or 75 minutes of vigorous-intense activity each week (preferably spread throughout the week). Moderate-intense activities are those at the level of a brisk walk.

Joint pain and depression

  • Walking is low impact on your joints, can be done almost anywhere and doesn't require special equipment or a gym membership. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)   recommends walking to improve arthritis pain, fatigue, function and quality of life.
  • Research at the Mayo Clinic reveals regular exercise such as walking may release feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids).

For more helpful information on chronic disease prevention and management, visit Michigan State University Extension at msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/chronic_disease.

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