One of the best things you can do for your health is to walk more. That may surprise you if you’ve been taught to think that every workout needs to leave you breathless and sweating buckets. But walking can serve as the base of any physical activity program.
If you’re just starting out and finding your groove as an exerciser, you can begin by walking more throughout the week. Walking is also a great addition to an already existing workout routine and can easily be paired with all of your other favorites like yoga, strength training, and HIIT. After all, all you really need to do is tie up your sneakers and get out the door.
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Why is Walking Important?
Walking — when hoofing at a brisk pace — falls into the category of moderate-intensity activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can hit the target of 150 minutes per week (or about 20 minutes each day) with walking.
Meeting physical activity guidelines is associated with cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, an ability to better perform functional movements during day-to-day tasks (like lugging those heavy grocery bags into your house), climbing your stairs without getting out of breath, and maintaining a healthy weight, notes the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the Department of Health & Human Services. And those are just the short-term benefits. In the long run, you’ll also safeguard your body from a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, as well as anxiety, and depression.
What Are The Health Benefits of Walking?
You’ll score head-to-toe benefits from incorporating walking into your every day. For your brain, walking can act as a meditative activity, boost your mood, and decrease your risk of depression. Walking is a good way to protect yourself from heart disease. It helps regulate blood sugar and slashes your odds of developing diabetes in half. And although walking doesn’t strengthen bones directly, it can hone strength and balance to keep you on your feet and fracture-free as you age.
In some instances, more may be better. You’ve no doubt heard that “sitting” is dubbed “the new smoking.” But being active, which includes walking, for 60 to 75 minutes per day can counteract the added health and mortality risks associated with the work-from-your-computer lifestyle that requires sitting for eight hours per day, according to a meta-analysis in The Lancet.
What is a Good Walking Routine?
Officially, the CDC recommends aiming for 150 minutes of brisk walking per week. While that’s about 20 minutes per day, you can break that down however works best for your schedule. For instance, if 30-minute walks five days per week are a better fit, then aim there.
“Moderate intensity” or “brisk” is walking at a pace that’s at least 100 steps per minute, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
When planning a walking routine, don’t assume it’s just going to happen or fit into your day. Rather, decide on distinct times you’ll get out there. For example, you might decide to walk your dog as soon as you get up in the morning and get the benefit of the natural light helping you wake up. Or, if you’re still working from home, a quick post-lunch break to go on a walk will help you digest your meal and help you de-stress for the afternoon ahead. After dinner is also a great time for a walk — you can bring your partner or meet up with a friend to catch up on your day.
What are Different Walking Workouts?
One of the huge perks of walking is that you really need nothing to do it. Some comfortable clothes and shoes and you’re good-to-go, making it accessible for everyone at every skill set. If you think that walking is boring, there are so many ways to switch it up, both indoors and out.
Outside, you can use walking poles, which are especially useful if you’re trekking long distances. And don’t forget that hiking is also walking — and you’d probably be surprised at the number of hiking trails around you, even if you live in the city. The changing terrain adds a more difficult element that can recruit your muscles in different ways.
For Serious Mind & Body Perks, Add More Walking to Your Fitness Routine
Whether you decide to walk for 20 minutes per day or break it up into two 10 minute chunks, make it your goal to just get up and walk more! Sprinkle more walking into your fitness routine, and you’re bound to see some impressive mind and body results.
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