Patrick J. Skerrett

Join in on National Walking Day

When you were a child, learning to walk was one of your greatest accomplishments. As an adult, the same simple motion of setting one foot in front of the other can put you on the path to good health.

Today is National Walking Day. Join the celebration by taking a walk.

This particular health observance is sponsored by the American Heart Association (AHA). Although it applies to everyone, it’s really aimed at adults who spend most of the workday sitting. The heart association hopes to get workers out of the office, store, or factory for a 30-minute walk. And not just today, but every day.

Why walk?

If you don’t exercise, or do it only now and then, walking is an excellent way to get more physical activity. Just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking (or other moderate exercise), helps your heart, blood vessels, muscles, brain, and the rest of your body.

Here are some of the things that make walking an excellent form of exercise.

Better health. Numerous studies have shown that walking substantially improves cardiovascular and muscle health, and reduces the chances of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions.

No cost. Walking is essentially free. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, some soft socks, and a safe place to walk.

Do it anywhere. You don’t have to travel to a gym or other special location. You can walk around a neighborhood, in a parking lot, up and down stairs, in a mall, through the woods, or any other place you choose.

Easy on the joints. For anyone with creaky knees and hips, walking is a great low impact exercise that can also build aerobic capacity.

Part of daily life. You don’t have to learn any new skills to start walking. That means you can weave it into your daily routine. Walk to the store or post office rather than drive there. Instead of sitting for a long lunch break, walk first and then eat. Park farther from your office or the train station, and walk a bit.

Social activity. Walking is a great time to talk with a friend or colleague. In fact, talking is one way to tell how hard you are working. You are exercising at moderate intensity if you are breathing faster than normal but can still have enough breath to speak a sentence or two out loud. If you aren’t the least bit out of breath, you are walking at low intensity; if you have trouble finishing a sentence, you are exercising at high intensity.

Beyond walking

Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day is a good way to keep yourself healthy. If you already exercise several times a week, walking each day at lunch or during a coffee break is a great antidote to sitting all day.

Keep in mind that daily walking is an excellent starting point, not an upper limit. Exercising longer, harder, or both can bring even greater health benefits.

You can do this by choosing an activity that makes your body work harder than walking, like jogging, bicycling, or swimming. You can also try high-intensity interval training. This means alternating bursts of more intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.

Here’s how interval training would apply to walking: Walk for a few minutes to warm up. Then alternate one minute of jogging (if you are in good shape) or walking very fast (if you aren’t) with two minutes of walking at your usual pace.

Interval training burns more calories than “regular” walking. It will improve your cardiovascular fitness. And it can help add variety to your walking program and keep boredom at bay.

If you don’t usually exercise, use National Walking Day as an invitation to get started. If you do exercise, use the day to invite a friend to get on the path to better health with a walk.

Comments:

  1. National Builders

    Walking is a great way to stay trim and get the blood flowing. A very interesting read. Thanks

  2. Atlanta personal trainer

    Walking is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your health.

  3. Nick

    Walking is one of the best method to get a 6 pack abs.
    Glad I found your post.

    -Nick

  4. All Marathon Training

    Walking is a good way to clear you mind and create a base for what become a run or some other form of exercise. I find list of upcoming events and train for them months in advance, a great way to put a goal at the end of all the training.

  5. ideal protein diet

    walking is also good for old people. it could prevent them to not forgetful easily about anything. body that often exercise can pump the blood be faster so that all body parts can be more focus to doing anything

  6. Damon S.

    Hi, I am also an MD and try to recommend walking to every patient but really see issues with some patients that need to do much more for their health outside of light exercise. Full disclosure, I’m a bariatrician and we subscribe to a much more aggressive approach to weight loss. I suppose my point is that walking is a great start but many patients need to graduate to more vigorous exercise or risk getting discouraged and falling back into old habits…just my two cents.

  7. emedoutlet

    This post reminded us the benefits of walking. However, walking may be difficult in cold weather. I would prefer Gym and Trade mill… Thank you for useful information…

  8. Recovery School

    It is Very interesting that aware about walking, which is an simple and important exercise for all people. Thank you Very much for sharing this one.