Walking for Exercise: There’s More Than Meets the Eye

Walking may provide more health benefits than you realize

When it comes to exercise, is walking right your alley? It’s commonly cast aside as a boring activity that doesn’t do much, if anything, to help you reach your health goals.

But before you run, you must first walk! All movement is healthy and walking is no exception. Whether you’re a pro on the treadmill, your neighborhood sidewalk or your favorite nature park, there’s more to “just walking” than meets the eye. Maybe you should do more of it?

Benefits to Walking

Maybe it’s not a calorie shredder, but walking provides a natural connection between your thoughts and well-being. It offers some of the following, but not exclusive, benefits:

  • Enhances creativity, mental clarity and focus
  • Boosts healthy chemicals and hormones in the brain
  • Generates new brain cells for learning and memory
  • Improves blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Gradually builds energy and endurance

In fact, running on a treadmill, cycling, or other higher intensity cardio workouts won’t always produce the mental-physical sync that taking a walk can. But before starting a program, understand what factors will help you achieve your weight and health goals.

Know before You Go

To walk your way toward better health, start slow and allow room for adaptation.

  • Begin by standing up to walk during a commercial break
  • Walk for a number of minutes every day without overdoing it
  • Ease yourself into upping duration, intensity or incline

Walking alone probably won’t offer all the health benefits you’re after. Exercise intensity is also key, so keep this in mind for any routine or program and know the following terms:

  • Maximal Heart Rate and Target Heart Rate
  • Warm up and Cool down
  • VO2 Max and aerobic capacity

Starting Your Walking Program

Ready to customize a walking program that works for you? Consider a few things before making a structure you can stick with, and don’t be afraid to get creative:

  • Select Your Environment: Inside your home gym? Outside on pavement or grass trails?
  • What Inspires You? Maybe it’s a fun, upbeat playlist or a special walking buddy.
  • Know Your Schedule: What days and times are good for ongoing commitment?
  • Gather Some Tools: Try activity logs, heart rate monitors or pedometers to start.

Walking is an excellent way to exercise, but as with all activity, you have to ease yourself into it. Make time to progress slowly, and don’t forget to incorporate specific fitness goals and motivations so you’re moving with a purpose. Keep putting one foot in front of the other!

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