“Walking is the most underrated, corrective, mind-body, fat-burning exercise available to humans,” said Dana Santas, a CNN fitness contributor, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and mind-body coach in professional sports. “I walk every single day.”
Here are several things everyone should know about this simple, yet beneficial, form of exercise. (Important note: Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain.)
A walking regimen can help you lose weight; lower your blood pressure and cholesterol; and reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer; among other benefits.
It improves memory and cognitive capability
Numerous studies show that walking is a brain booster.
It boosts your mood and lowers stress
You can strengthen your muscles, bones and joints. Your leg and abdominal muscles get a workout when you walk, as do your arms if you’re pumping them or using trekking poles.
Your bones benefit, too, as walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which is great for building bone strength. And as you walk, your motion helps bring oxygen and nutrients into your joint cartilage, which has no direct blood supply.
Walking is energizing, yet also helps you sleep
It’s a safe, easy exercise for newbies
Matthews noted those without the stamina to finish a 30-minute walk can break it up into small chunks, something not easily doable if you need to exercise at a gym. “This could be a 10-minute walk to work, a 10-minute walk on your lunch break and a 10-minute walk home from work.”
Walking can be a vigorous workout
You don’t need to take 10,000 steps a day
Build family bonds
Heading out for a stroll with your children could enhance your communication, reduce behavioral issues and even boost academic success. And don’t forget your spouse.
“One man told me walking saved his marriage,” Santas said.
The couple was on the brink of divorce when his wife began accompanying him on his daily walks.
“They started communicating in ways they hadn’t before, and it brought them back together.”
Develop community bonds
Walking is free and can be done anywhere
There’s no need for a pricey gym membership. Just put on your shoes and head out the door. If the weather’s bad, look for a place such as a mall or school that offers community walking time. You can even walk around your house.