Walking is an intrinsic human function that serves many roles. First of all, it helps clear the mind, pace the thoughts and calm us down. Second, it is a great exercise that helps tone the legs, shed extra weight, improve lung ventilation and overall health. It is also a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease. It temporarily quickens the heart rate, increasing blood circulation through the body and bringing more oxygen to other organs. At the same time, walking increases the lungs' ability to take in oxygen from the air, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Walking can help slow down the aging process and it works no matter what age you get started. It is low impact, requires no special equipment or skills and can be done at any time of the day and at your own pace. Moreover, you can walk without worrying about the risks usually associated with some vigorous forms of exercise.
When we walk, we carry our own body weight. It is called weight-bearing exercise and some of its benefits are:
- Increased heart and lung fitness
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improved management of hypertension, diabetes, muscular and joint stiffness
- Improved blood lipid profile
- Increased muscle strength
- Reduced body fat.
To get overall as well as the heart health benefits, it is necessary to walk at least 30 minutes per day as briskly as possible. Briskly means that you can still talk, but can be slightly puffing. It does not even have to be non-stop; three ten-minute walks a day will work as efficiently too. You will help lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart just by walking regularly. Therefore, try to make walking your daily routine by:
- Taking the stairs and avoiding elevator
- Getting off public transport one or two stops early and walking to the final destination (home or work)
- Walking, not driving, to the local shops
- Walking your children to school
- Parking your car further from your destination.
As it has been mentioned, regular walking triggers anti-aging processes and also helps repair old DNA. In order to stay motivated, walk with friends or co-workers at lunch, walk your or your neighbor's dog, join a walking club, use a pedometer or your phone app to measure the number of steps made per day and start increasing it gradually. It is recommended to start off with 2, 000 steps and work toward the 5, 000-step goal. Once you've met the desired goal, you may just want to maintain your fitness level or set a goal of 10, 000 steps. Remember, even a little walking is good, but more is better.
However, put your safety first. If the weather is harsh and the streets are slippery, you'd better walk in a mall, down long hallways or on the stairs.