What can you do anywhere at any time that affords you so many health benefits? It’s something you do anyway, but you can certainly do more. And it’s so easy. I’m talkin’ about walkin’ here and it’s difficult to ignore this fabulous exercise friend.
According to the American Heart Association, research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Improve blood lipid profile
- Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
- Enhance mental well being
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
- Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
Start slow and go
Don’t feel overwhelmed, thinking you have to run a marathon. Just put on your shoes and make it happen. After all, you do it anyway. Walking helps you burn calories and lose weight, boost your metabolism, lower your blood pressure and risk of heart disease and diabetes, clear your mind and ramp up your mood.
Walking is great way to appreciate nature, make new human and pet friends, and just “get away” from that desk. You already know that sitting is so bad for you, and that even if you work out, sitting still harms your health.
Research from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found good reason to substitute easy-going walking for two minutes of sitting in your chair every hour. You’ll lower your risk of premature death by a third compared to those who don’t get up and about.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE),
- Walking boosts creativity by 60 percent
- A 15-minute walk can curb chocolate cravings
- A lunchtime walk can boost productivity at work
- Walking with a friend, spouse, or child can build a stronger relationship with them
Reasons for the walking season
Today, ACE shared some easy strategies to stop talking about walking and just do it, from “My Walking Coach” Michele Stanten.
- Keep sneakers in your car. That way you’re prepared to take a walk anytime you have a few extra minutes. Early to a doctor appointment? Stroll around the block.
- Walk, don’t wait. Instead of sitting on the bleachers while your kid is at soccer practice or in the waiting room during dance class, take a walk.
- Invite friends for walks instead of coffee or lunch. You’ll burn calories instead of consuming them.
- Have multiple routes. Many walkers always walk from the same location. Expand your options by walking from any location that you frequent. Start a walk from home, work, your kids’ schools, the grocery store, or a friend or family member’s home. Anywhere you find yourself at least once a week is a possible starting point. The more options you have the more likely you are to walk.\
- Park once. The norm in many suburban shopping centers is to park by one store, go in and shop, then drive to the next one. Instead park at a central location and walkto all of the stores, even if you have to return to the car in between to drop off packages—bonus steps!
- Get an activity monitor. From simple pedometers to FitBits, these wearable activity tracking devices can motivate you to move more. See how much you normally walk, and then set incremental goals to increase the number of steps you take or the number of calories you burn each day. The benefits will multiply as the numbers do.
I like to do my walking and running first thing in the morning. I start the day feeling powerful and in control, instead of the other way around. It’s especially important to me on Monday, and in fact, research shows that working out at the week’s beginning is critical to ongoing success, that it calms anxiety, and may help you learn faster. I’m in. How about you?