Is Walking Exercise Right For You?

by Thamisgith

Is walking exercise effective - yes it is! It can provide you with many health benefits, and it's easy to do.

We all know that we should exercise on a regular basis - but finding the time to do so can be difficult. At the end of a long day, with a commute at either end, finding the energy, the time and the motivation to exercise can be something that's a lot easier said than done.

However, you don't need to go jogging round the park or head to the gym. You can, quite literally, take steps to get the exercise that you need and gain a whole range of health benefits simply by walking a little more often than you currently do.

The Benefits of Walking For Exercise

is walking exerciseFor many people, "exercise" is associated with high impact, high intensity workouts. The idea that we need to "go for the burn" in order to achieve significant benefits has become entrenched in our psyche.

And, with that mindset, it would be very easy to dismiss walking as a suitable exercise method. However, that would be a mistake. The fact that walking is a low intensity, low impact exercise technique is not a disadvantage. Quite the reverse in fact.

The risk of minor strains and sprains when walking is very much lower than almost any other form of exercise. It's also  something which you already know how to do - so there's no training required.

Neither do you need to fork out for expensive gym memberships each month. There's no special equipment required - all that you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and clothing suited to the climate and environment that you will be walking in.

The key thing with walking, as with many other exercise techniques, is that you need to do it on a regular and consistent basis. If you can walk just a little further than normal - every day - then you will be very pleasantly surprised at the benefits which you can achieve.

The Health Benefits Of Walking

The health benefits of walking for exercise will probably surprise you. The list reads like a publicity shot for some new wonder drug or health supplement - but these benefits have been clinically proven.

Here are just a few of the beneficial effects that you can reasonably expect if you walk on a regular basis:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Lower cholesterol levels.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Reduced risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Can help to fight anxiety and depression.
  • Better sleep at night.
  • Higher energy levels throughout the day.
  • Studies suggest that regular walking can prevent Alzheimer's disease in later life.
  • Improved muscle tone.
  • Burn calories and help to control weight.

It's an impressive list for an exercise that you do every day without thinking about it. All that you need to do is walk a little further than normal on a regular basis - and that's easier than you might imagine.

How Far Do You Need To Walk To Get The Benefits Mentioned?

is walking exerciseAccording to most health and fitness advisers, we should aim to take 10,000 steps each day in order to achieve health benefits as a result of walking for exercise. That equates to something like four and a half to five miles for someone of average height and stride length.

It sounds like a long way - but don't forget that those 10,000 steps are the total for the day. They include the steps that you would normally take during your daily routine anyway.

Even those of us with a fairly sedentary lifestyle will take two or three thousand steps each day. Some people will already take quite a few more.

If you don't know how many steps you normally take, a low priced pedometer might be a good investment for you. These are very accurate these days and will display the number of steps you take, the distance covered and the number of calories burned.

You may find that having this information available will help to keep you motivated.

And reaching your 10,000 step target will be a lot easier than you think. Here are just a few suggestions for ways to increase the number of steps that you take each day:

  1. Leave the car in the garage and walk to the shops, work or college.
  2. If you do need to take your car, park in a section of the lot that is further away from the entrance than normal.
  3. If you take the bus or the subway to work, get off one or two stops earlier than normal and finish your journey on foot. Do the same on the return journey home and you'll get double the benefit.
  4. Instead of using the elevator use the stairs from time to time. As with the bus journey, if you have many flights to climb and it's not practical to walk all the way, just get out one or two floors earlier than normal and do the last leg using the stairs.
  5. Go for a walk at lunchtime instead of sitting at your computer.
  6. Walk around when you're talking on your cellphone.

You'll be surprised at just how quickly these small changes can make a difference. Don't forget, you don't need to hit the 10,000 step market immediately. You should start slowly and then build up gradually to your target value.

Make Walking Fun

If you decide that you would like to try walking as an exercise technique, there's absolutely no need for it to be a chore. In fact, it can be very enjoyable and might well turn out to be something that you look forward to each day.

Here are a few suggestions to make your walking an enjoyable pastime rather than an activity that you need to force yourself to do:

  1. Listen to music while you walk. You'll find that the miles and the time will pass more quickly if you're listening to your favorite music as you walk along.
  2. Make walking a social event. Walk with friends and colleagues and catch up on the latest news and gossip.
  3. Make a point of walking in areas that you've meant to visit but haven't found time to do so.
  4. Get yourself a dog and take it for nice long walks. You will both enjoy it and get many benefits as a result.
Updated: 03/16/2013, Thamisgith
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Telesto on 09/14/2014

I reduced both my cholesterol and blood glucose levels just by doing 10,000 steps 5 days a week. You're right, as long as you are dressed for it, it's an, easy cheap way of exercising, and you can build the rest of your day into it. And if, as always happens, the battery on my pedometer runs out halfway through the day, there's always the back on the pedometer on my Smartphone.

ologsinquito on 09/12/2013

I like to walk for exercise. A pedometer is a great idea.

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