Walking is good for you. It’s as simple as that.
In fact, what makes it even better is when it is added in conjunction to weight training along with a healthy diet. Walking doesn’t require any equipment and can be done just about anywhere. No matter your fitness level, whether you’re new to working out or a seasoned pro, anyone can make it a part of their lifestyle.
Even though walking is considered low impact, it can still be a moderate to intense workout if done at a faster pace. This can be defined by the “talk test”- if you can still talk but singing would be difficult then it’s working your cardiovascular system. It’s important to aim for a total of 150 minutes of this type of movement spread throughout the week.
So, what are the REAL benefits of walking?
It Can Improve Bone and Muscle Strength
Walking not only helps to strengthen your cardiovascular system but also the muscles in your legs and core. It makes for an excellent full body workout. SInce it is a weight-bearing exercise it helps to preserve bone health and muscle strength. Walking has been shown to decrease osteoporosis by improving strength in your legs and spine per the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It is recommended to start with a 10-minute brisk walk three times per day in combination with your weight training routine for maximum benefit to both bones and muscles. With any form of exercise, it is important to take rest days to reduce the risk of injury and promote recovery.
Anytime you’re feeling a bit down a simple walk can be just thing you need. Movement helps to improve energy levels which, when they’re low, can cause a sense of feeling down. A study published by Mayo Clinic in 2017 found that even five minutes of walking helped to improve mood and lower depression symptoms. Walking is a great stress reliever as well so anytime you’re a bit overwhelmed and tense a short walk will do the trick.
As mentioned above, walking benefits your cardiovascular system which will do wonders for your heart. Not only will this improve cholesterol, but it has been shown to decrease blood pressure. This proved true in a study, completed by Cochrane, when walking was done three to five times per week for 20-40 minutes over the course of three months. In short, a consistent walking routine leads to a healthier heart which leads to a healthier, longer life.
Just like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, walking is beneficial in weight loss and in maintaining a healthy weight. Combine a regular brisk walking (see “talk test” above) routine with a clean diet and strength training to reap the benefits. It’s important to note that since walking is low impact it is a great choice for those that require a gentler form of cardio than say running.
As with any form of exercise it’s important to speak to your physician before trying something new. In addition, it’s always vital to warm up and cool down to reduce the risk of injury and promote proper recovery. If your goal is to add walking into your routine start small. As mentioned, set a realistic goal of a few short 10-minute walks per day and build upon that once your body can adjust and recover. There’s no better indication of what you’re capable of then listening closely to your body, if it doesn’t feel right OR the latter, feels too easy, adjust to your needs. Ensure proper nutrition and hydration when adding any sort of exercise into your day to keep your energy levels high and body functioning at its best.
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