Think for a minute. Can you list at least 4 benefits of walking? As a chiropractor I am often asked about exercise. I typcially recommend walking as a place to start to virtually all of my patients because of the many health benefits.
For most of us walking is simply a way to get around and, unfortunately, we use walking less and less as a mode of transportation and more as a means of getting from room to room or to our car. For many of us the walking required to shop at the mall or grocery store is about the most we do in any given week. And yet the simple act of walking could be that essential key to long term health and fitness in your life. How many of the following benefits did you list?
Is a good way to burn calories. You burn about 100 calories per mile walked on a flat, hard surface, more if you walk on grass or sand or add a few hills.
Improves your cardiovascular system and overall endurance.
Helps reduce blood pressure by aiding in weight reduction and an improved cardiovascular system.
Helps reduce the risk of heart disease by providing the first 3 benefits listed.
Is a weight bearing exercise. In your 20’s it helps build peak bone mass and in your 50’s it helps prevent the loss of bone that leads to osteoporosis.
Reduces the risk of stroke in women. The long term Nurses Study has shown that women who walk regularly have a reduced rate of stroke.
Helps reduce stress. As an aerobic exercise, walking stimulates the brain to release beta endorphins which have a calming and soothing effect.
Helps boost brainpower and prevent mental decay and memory loss. A study published in Nature showed that walking increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain leading walkers to score far better on mental tests. Walking specifically boosted the activity of the frontal areas of b rain associated with logical thinking, planning and memory.
Improves muscle tone in the lower body.
Is used to help in the recovery of many ailments, including heart attacks and surgery.
Can help people with poor circulation to the arms and legs by increasing the size and efficiency of the tiny vessels that supply blood for cellular respiration.
Requires no equipment except a good pair of walking shoes.
Doesn’t require and expensive gym membership.
Can be done anytime, anywhere.
Invest in good shoes. The ball of your feet should rest where the front of the shoe bends while walking and make sure it has plenty of cushioning. High top shoes are not recommended because they restrict full range of motion.
Allow your arms to move freely. Save your weights for other forms of exercise. If you insist on using weights make sure they are light enough so they do not interfere with he natural rhythm of your arms.
Use good posture while walking. Looking down while you walk puts added pressure on your neck.
Walk with a partner or try listening to music or a book on tape.
A dog can be a great walking companion. Most dogs need exercise so they can be a great motivator.
Check with your physician before starting an exercise program, especially if you have any health issues or concerns.