Today marks National Walking Day, an event created by the National Heart Association to remind everyone the importance of getting on your feet for at least 30 minutes, for the sake of your heart and overall wellness. While we all know the importance of being active, there are now more reasons than ever for you to get walking today and every day. If the weather still isn't springlike in your neck of the woods, hopping on a treadmill can even provide you with some of the same benefits you can receive from taking a brisk stroll outdoors.
Health Benefits of Walking
Besides helping to stabilize a healthy weight and fight obesity, walking can provide a variety of other positive effects. Here are some of the great ways that walking can improve your health:
1. It can boost your mood and improve symptoms of depression.
Exercising is a known mood booster, but a new study suggests that group walking, in particular, may help reduce the risk of depression or improve depressive symptoms.
2. It can delay mental decline and reduce your risk of dementia.
A study referenced by Harvard Health Publications demonstrated that people who exercised by walking or other physical activities had a lower risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
3. It can lower your risk of having a stroke.
Women who walked briskly for two or more hours a week showed a 30 percent risk reduction in having any kind of stroke, according to research referenced by WebMD.
4. It can help fortify your bones.
The Arthritis Foundation demonstrates that walking can promote healthy joint lubrication, which reduces stiffness and pain. In addition, going for a stroll can reduce your risk of incurring a hip fracture and osteoporosis.
5. It can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Brisk walking may be just as effective as running is at reducing your risk of these conditions, according to a study published in the American Heart Association's journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
How to Mix Up Your Everyday Walking Routine
Since following the same routine every day can get a bit tedious, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to add some variety to the mix the next time you lace up your sneakers. In addition to trying a new route, there are several other ways that you can enhance your typical walking experience.
- Try using small dumbbells or strapping on attachable weights to up the intensity a bit and further promote toning.
- If you normally walk alone, invite a friend along so you can both enjoy the social and physical benefits.
- Use a stopwatch and challenge yourself to race walk to a set point in a certain amount of time.
- Increase your incline by walking up a hill, or try out rugged terrain.
- Plug in your headphones and listen to an exciting audio book or new music as you stroll down a nature trail.
- Stop at regular intervals to add some squats, jumping jacks and lunges.
While walking may seem almost too simple of an exercise, the benefits it can provide for your health are numerous. Incorporating regular walks into your lifestyle can improve many aspects of your health and promote overall longevity. Check out our selection of healthy living essentials at eVitamins, and come back next time for more health news!
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