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What are the Benefits of Walking?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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The benefits of walking are numerous, including many improvements to physical and emotional health. Beyond this is the fact that it doesn’t require much effort or time to see the benefits. It is recommended that people take three brisk, 30-minute walks per week, though the optimum is five walks per week. Still, for the sacrifice of 150 minutes a week, people can reap some extraordinary rewards.

There is no doubt that one of the benefits of walking most often discussed is the potential for weight loss or maintaining current weight. Not all people who walk the recommended five times a week see a huge shift in weight, and walking usually has to be paired with calorie reduction in the diet to see significant results. Walking for longer stretches of time can help as well. Combining a good diet with walking is most likely to result in weight loss or to keep weight stable and prevent weight gain.

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As much as weight loss is attractive, there are other physical benefits of walking that are just as important. Walking five times a week can lower blood pressure and may lower cholesterol levels. This lowering effect reduces risk for stroke and conditions like atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular exercise also has extraordinary benefits for the heart muscle and may help prevent heart attacks or heart disease. With so many adults now developing diabetes, it’s good to know that 150 minutes a week of walking can be a way to prevent the condition for many people.

Other benefits of walking includes the potential for lowering the risk for certain forms of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer. Walking also offers protection to the body as it ages. It keeps joints and bones limber, possibly preventing some arthritis, and activity like this might prevent osteoporosis, which could lead to conditions like hip fractures.

Sometimes, walking provides both physical and emotional benefits. People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better, and this physical feature may have a huge effect on emotional health. Research is establishing a strong relationship between sleep levels and development of depression, so that anything that improves the quality of sleep may also lower risk for depression.

Additionally, walking tends to elevate mood and is advised to anyone with or without mood or anxiety difficulties. Another of the many benefits of walking is that it is a known stress reliever. The energy that walking confers can also improve people’s outlook on life and the potential changes it may make on the body can increase self-esteem levels.

All of these benefits of walking suggest that it’s a highly useful activity people may really want to consider. It’s valuable to mention a couple of provisos before taking a walk. Walking tends to mean being out in the sun, and people should wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen to keep the skin healthy. Also, before people start walking, especially if they’ve not been very active, or have injuries or physical conditions, they should check with a doctor on how to build a safe fitness plan.

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pastanaga
Post 3

@irontoenail - It probably depends on how fast people walk. I have a friend who walks so fast that it feels like a workout just keeping up with her. And I used to have a training partner who jogged so slowly that I could probably keep up with her at a fast walk. I'm not sure who would have had more benefits.

I think people just need to figure out what works for them and stick to that.

irontoenail
Post 2

@MrsPramm - Well, the thing is, I've done a lot of walking and a lot of running in my time and walking just doesn't feel like exercise to me, unless it's done up a hill or really fast. If I run for twenty minutes in the morning my whole day seems better and I feel much healthier. If I walk for an hour, I feel better than if I didn't do anything, but I don't feel nearly as good as I do when I run.

This might just be a personal thing, but I don't think you can replace the benefits of running with the benefits of walking. Running will increase your heart rate, which is something that people need in their lives, while walking just won't do that.

MrsPramm
Post 1

I often hear people talk about how it's better to run than to walk, because you get more exercise benefits in the same amount of time. But running can be much more stressful on your body, particularly if you are overweight or have a medical condition.

Walking puts very little stress on your joints and your cardiovascular system in comparison. It might not be quite as efficient, but if you're not at the peak of fitness you will probably be able to walk for a lot longer than you can run anyway.

I just think that people should consider walking as a valid form of exercise.

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