Walking can be done just by about anyone and in fact we do it a lot in our daily lives that we hardly give it a second thought. Running seems to hog the spotlight when it comes to being viewed as an exercise, because it is more intense and it makes a person visibly sweat. Just because walking doesn’t make you pant and sweat as much as jogging does doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer the same kind of benefits.
Let’s get this clear: walking is a form of exercise. It is a low impact, low strain form of exercise that nevertheless burns calories, strengthens muscles and exercises the heart. Just like running, walking offers the following benefits:
- Lowers the levels of low density lipoproteins (LDLs) or the “bad cholesterol” in our bodies. This type of cholesterol tends to stick to the arteries causing a narrowing which can cause chronic conditions and complications such as heart attack and stroke.
- Elevates the levels of high density lipoproteins (HDLs) or the “good cholesterols” in our bodies. HDLs bind to excess LDLs, transporting it back to the liver.
- Lowers blood pressure which put you less at risk of contracting many diseases including cardiovascular diseases. People who have chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes can especially benefit from this, to reduce complications such as nerve damage and stroke. It can also serve as a preventive measure against obesity and stroke.
- Walking keeps the weight down by burning the energy that we get from food. Walking is especially recommended after meals to encourage proper digestion and to discourage fats from sleeping in our bodies.
- Walking also improves stamina and endurance. With regular walking, we feel stronger and tasks done around the house or at work won’t seem like so much effort compared to if we were just sedentary.
- Walking improves our mood because exercise naturally does this to our bodies. Exercise encourages the release of chemicals called endorphins in our brains, causing a sense of well-being. Walking is great for people who want to relieve stress.
In order to get the best results from walking, we should aim for at least an hour’s worth of moderate walking a day. This could be broken down in 20 minutes or 30 minutes intervals throughout the day. You could also try a more intense form of walking called brisk walking, which is halfway between walking and running. This could cut your exercise time to around 40 minutes of brisk walking a day. When you feel like you have built your endurance enough, you can eventually move on to 20-30 minutes of jogging in a day.
It helps to walk comfortably if you have the right gear for it. Choose a pair of walking shoes that cushions the feet properly. You should also warm up before brisk walking by walking slowly for about 5 minutes to condition the muscles and joints for the work ahead. You should also cool down at the end of your brisk walking by walking slowly five minutes before resting.
You could keep your walking interesting by walking in various locations. You could start out with your local neighborhood then eventually you could move to parks, or a nearby nature retreat. It’s also great to share walking with your friends and family.