The Health Benefits of Walking for Exercise

Find tips for easy to do fitness walking, health advantages of walking, and ideal walking gear for every walker whether beginner or advanced.

Walking, an activity that nearly everyone does every day is the number one activity everywhere in the world. Walking holds claim to the number one participation sport the world over. The major reason for this top spot is the ease with which it is done. Walking does not require any special skill, equipment, or clothing.

Health Benefits of Walking

Walking is, most likely, the safest exercise one can do. There is no prior training required nor does it require an overt amount of physical exertion. In spite of that, walking can be just as effective in assisting with weight loss. Other health benefits of walking include:

  • an easing of back pain
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing levels of bad cholesterol
  • reducing the risk of heart disease
  • enhancing stamina and energy
  • lessening anxiety and tension
  • improving muscle tone
  • slowing down of bone loss due to osteoporosis

The Best Walking Equipment

There is a wide array of walking equipment available from gear for people on a budget to those for whom money is no object. While one can, there is no need to spend a lot of money on walking equipment. There are a few necessities when it comes to successful walking along with a few items that are simply beneficial.

The most integral piece of walking equipment is shoes. Walking shoes can be the difference between having fun while exercising and being in pain. It is extremely important to acquire a good pair of walking shoes with the following characteristics:

  • support and comfort for all parts of the foot
  • enough room so that the toes can wiggle
  • firm support for the heel
  • a flexible cushioned sole to aid walking gait and absorb shock
  • made of breathable material to allow perspiration to dissipate
  • lightweight

Other beneficial, but not essential, walking gear includes pedometers and reflective lights. Pedometers are an ideal way to enhance walking. It is fun to know how many steps and/or how many miles or kilometres one has walked. A pedometer is a great way to keep track of progress towards goals. Most pedometers also calculate calories burned. If one decides to walk in the early morning or late evening, reflective vests and/or bands are essential for safety. Small blinking lights or flashlights will also work for this purpose.

Walk 10,000 Steps a Day

Health experts recommend approximately 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. The 10K-A-DAY program exceeds this recommendation. This is where a pedometer is most beneficial as it will tabulate steps taken during each day. It is suggested that one keep a walking journal or calendar to log daily steps and keep track of progress. If a weight loss goal is involved, 12,000 steps may be a more significant goal to work towards.

Prior to any walk, it is always a good idea to do a warm-up and stretch. A moderately paced, five-minute walk followed by calf, Achilles, hamstring, and quadricep stretches are suggested. This warm-up period will help loosen muscles and lessen the chance of injury. At the end of any walk, a cool down period is beneficial. Another five minutes should be spent slowing one’s heart rate, rather than stopping abruptly. Stretching once again is also a good idea.

Do’s and Dont’s of Fitness Walking

There are a few things to remember before beginning a walking program, including the following:

  • Do see a doctor before beginning any exercise program. He or she will be able to assist in the development of an appropriate routine.
  • Do drink water before, during, and after a walk.
  • Do eat well, avoiding foods high in fat and cholesterol.
  • Don’t continue walking if chest pains, dizziness, pain, or severe shortness of breath occur.
  • Don’t walk right after or before meals. Wait two hours after a meal to walk and 20 minutes prior to eating after a walk.
  • Don’t walk outdoors in extreme weather conditions. Find a walking track indoors as an alternative.

Enjoy walking as part of a regular daily routine. The health benefits are endless and the activity is simple and inexpensive to begin and maintain. Make walking a family affair and/or invite friends along as well. Walking can make a significantly positive difference in the life of people of all ages.