Benefits of Walking

image001Walking is great exercise that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. It is also cheap and easy to do because it requires very little equipment and can be done alone or with a group. As with any other exercise regimen, you should consult your healthcare provider before starting a walking program but chances are your doctor will recommend that you walk at least 30 minutes five days a week. When you begin walking, you are likely to see many benefits from this mild form of exercise, both physically and mentally. Learn how you can benefit from walking.

Benefits of Walking

1. Improve Heart Health

When you walk on a regular basis, your heart has to work to keep up with the increased exercise. This increase in your heart rate makes it stronger and helps to control your blood pressure. As your heart strengthens and blood pressure decreases, your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) lowers and your HDL (good cholesterol) cholesterol increases. All of these factors combine to decrease your risk for stroke and heart disease.

2. Keep Your Weight in Check

Walking regularly is a very easy way to burn calories and lose weight. Of course, if you also increase your caloric intake, you will not lose weight as quickly. Regular exercise will also increase your rate of metabolism so you will begin to lose weight even when you are sleeping or resting. Eat the same amount each day and begin walking for 30 minutes each day and you will begin to lose weight over time.

3. Tone Your Legs, Bum and Belly

As you walk, you will increase the muscle tone in your legs, buttocks and abdomen. Walking on hills is a great way to get the benefits of tighter buttock muscles. You can tone you abs and waistline when keep a proper posture during walking.

4. Elevate Your Mood

Walking can make you happy by increasing the release of endorphins in the body. These substances stimulate the pleasure center of the body and work to decrease stress. Walking in groups can give you the added benefit of meeting and socializing with people. All of these contribute to make you happier.

5. Keep You Energized

As you walk, your circulation increases and the amount of oxygen that gets to your brain and other organs increases. This extra injection of oxygen helps decrease tension as it makes you feel more alert. Thus, brisk walking can keep you energized.

6. Reduce Diabetes Risk

If you are at risk for diabetes, try walking as a preventative measure. The resistance of your body to insulin can be lowered and your body can become more sensitive to insulin by taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes five days a week.

7. Strengthen Bones and Joints

Exercises like jogging and aerobics are not for everyone. If you have joint or bone problems, extreme exercise can make them worse. On the other hand, walking can help decrease your risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) and improve your balance and decrease your chance of falling. Again, walking 5 days a week for 30 minutes is all you need to strengthen your bones and joints.

8. Beat Breast Cancer

Research indicates that women who are active run a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Studies also show that women who walk after receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer have a 40-45% greater chance of survival.

9. Help You Sleep Well

If you have trouble sleeping, take a brisk walk before dinner. This activity will help you enjoy your dinner more and will give you plenty of time to wind down before bedtime. Heavy exercise (including fast walking) within four hours of bed may actually disrupt your sleep so be sure to allow enough time between your walk and bed.

Techniques of Walking


As you begin a walking regimen, you will get more benefit from the exercise if you walk using good posture. Keep your head up and in line with your spine. Look forward with your neck and shoulders relaxed but straight. As you walk, be sure to bend your elbows and swing your arms as you walk. Keep your abdominal muscles taut and use those muscles to hold your back straight.

Tips on Walking for Health

Before You Start

  • One of the best parts about walking as an exercise is that all you really need to get started is a good pair of walking shoes that fit well and provide support for your feet.
  • As for the rest of your preparation, you will probably want to wear layers of loose clothing. Wearing layers will allow you to take off clothes as you get warmer during the walk.
  • Be sure to wear sunscreen if you will be outside for more than 10 minutes.
  • If you will be walking for very long, you may want to carry a backpack with water and a snack.

Starting Out

  • When you begin walking, be sure to build up slowly – particularly if you have not been active for some time. Start by doing some gentle stretches.
  • As you build up your muscles, you will be able to walk farther and faster in the same 30 minute time frame. In order to get all of the benefits of walking, you need to walk far enough and fast enough to make your heart beat faster. How far should you walk? At the beginning, aim for about 10,000 steps each day. Most people can walk about 1000 steps in 10 minutes so you may want to walk several times each day to hit your goal. Walk a few minutes at a slow pace and gradually increase your speed.
  • A few minutes before you get back home, slow your pace again. When you arrive home, gently stretch again as you cool down.

Keep Motivated

The trick to getting the most benefit from walking is to stay motivated and make walking part of your daily habits. You can do this by walking to work, using stairs instead of escalators, walking with groups of people on your lunch break, and walking with family or friends after work. Wear a pedometer to see if you can reach higher goals each day.