Did you know that walking is the single most popular adult exercise in the U.S.? According to the American Heart Association, walking is inexpensive, safe, easy, and a great way to get the physical activity needed to obtain health benefits. Thirty minutes of brisk walking, five days a week can help decrease the risk of many chronic diseases, improve your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, and increase your energy.
Walking not only helps you feel better physically, but also emotionally. A brisk walk or other physical activity can improve your mood and help you feel better for up to several hours. Regular walking can also help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms over time.
There are many opportunities to participate in walking such as for transportation or taking your dog for a walk. Walkable communities make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to be active.
Despite the known health benefits of being physically active, only one-half of U.S. adults and about one-quarter of high school students meet the minimum guidelines for aerobic physical activity. Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, brisk cycling, or yard work, every week and muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups. You can spread your activity out during the week, so you don’t have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller amounts of time during the day.
Walking does not require any special skills. It also does not require a gym membership or expensive equipment, other than a decent pair of walking shoes. Be sure to choose shoes that are comfortable and provide good support. Wear loose, comfortable clothes for your walks. When walking at night, wear light-colored clothing or a reflecting band.
The following are some easy ways you can add more steps into your day:
- Walk the kids to the park or playground.
- Park a bit farther from the entrance to your workplace, school, grocery store, restaurants, etc.
- Walk to a nearby restaurant for lunch or dinner instead of driving.
- Catch up with a friend by walking around the block while you chat on the phone.
- Grab the leash and take the dog out for a walk.
- American Heart Association. Why Is Walking the Most Popular Form of Exercise?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical Activity.
- Health and Human Services, Surgeon General. Step It Up: The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities – Executive Summary.
- Michigan State University Extension. Benefits of Walking for Physical Activity.