The benefits of walking are many and include more than improving your cardiovascular health and aiding in weight management. Engaging in a regular walking program may lower your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol level, blood pressure, reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve your mood.
Walking is a form of exercise that you already know how to do and have done your whole life, there is no learning curve. Walking for fitness is simple, easy for beginners as well as moderate-level exercisers, inexpensive, effective and, for the most part, very safe. You can do it anywhere with a quality pair of walking shoes, outside or inside on a treadmill.
Walking at a brisk pace is considered a ‘moderately-intense’ form of aerobic exercise. It burns calories and, if challenging enough, may keep your heart elevated for 30 minutes, five days per week, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Walking is a low-impact exercise, like low-impact aerobics, so it is easier on your joints. However, it is considered to be a ‘weight-bearing’ physical activity, unlike bicycling and swimming. While riding your bicycle and swimming torch calories and get your heart pumping quickly, weight-bearing activities are most beneficial for increasing and/or maintaining optimal bone density. Small, fragile and/or underweight elderly women, particularly Caucasian and Asian women, are prone to decreased bone mass, which can greatly increase the risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering from more frequent fractures.
- M Navratilova. Walking: the easiest exercise. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP); Sept 2010.
- RM Lange and MA Nies. Benefits of walking for obese women in the prevention of bone and joint disorders. Ortho Nursing: May-Jun 2004.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone – How much physical activity to adults need?