If you are one of the millions of people who knows they should exercise but never seen to get around to it, or you want to begin exercising but don’t know where to begin, this article is for you. Walking is a great way to get on track with starting an exercise routine.
Are you surprised? Hippocrates not only said, “let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food,” he also said “walking is man’s best friend.” Walking briskly is a good exercise to strengthen the heart, strengthen bones, and lower blood pressure. It doesn’t require a gym membership, and you pick the time, place, and pace. Knee, hip, or joint issues? Walking is a low impact exercise and is gentler on your joints than many other forms of exercising.
Does walking for exercise still seem like too much effort? Try listening to your favorite music while walking. Music lessens the perception of walking being work by causing a favorable distraction and makes walking more enjoyable.
Don’t assume that something as simple as a brisk walk is not a good form of exercise. It is a fully body workout. Just a few of the many benefits of walking include:
- Heart will work more efficiently by lowering resting heart rate
- Stimulates digestion
- Reduces anxiety
- Prevents and reduces high blood pressure
- Loosens stiff joints and helps manage arthritis
- Increases metabolism
- Prevents obesity
- Keeps lungs healthy
- Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises good cholesterol (HDL)
- Improves circulation
- Improves mood and cognition
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts energy
- Reduces insulin resistance and helps prevent or mange type 2 diabetes
- Allows a person to stay independent as they get older
A study just published in May 2023 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported just 11 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking briskly is enough to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, several cancers, and premature death (defined as deaths between the ages of 30 and 70). The study was a meta-analysis of 196 peer-reviewed articles and included more than 30 million people from 94 large study cohorts. This study was the largest analysis ever done to examine the association between various levels of activity and the risk of heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and premature death.
The results of this study are a real eye-opener! The study found a 23% reduced rate of premature death, in addition to a reduced the rate of cardiovascular disease by 17%, then a 7% reduced risk of any kind of cancer as a result of walking briskly for 11 minutes daily. Some cancers including myeloid leukemia, myeloma and some stomach cancers had a reduced risk of between 14 – 26%. Lung, liver, endometrial, colon, and breast cancers saw a risk reduction between 3 – 11% in this study. Furthermore, the study concluded that 1 in 10 early deaths could be prevented, 1 in 20 cases of cardiovascular disease prevented, and 1 in 30 cases of cancer could be prevented just by walking briskly 11 minutes a day. Just think of how the quality of life for millions of people could improve just by walking!
Interestingly, the study found the benefits of 150 minutes or more a week of moderately intense exercise, which is currently recommended by the US Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, to be marginal. Moderate to intense activities 150 minutes a week found in 1 in 6 people were less likely to die prematurely, 1 in 9 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease, and 1 in 20 fewer cases of cancer. This study shows us how powerful, brisk walking can reduce the risk of several diseases and boost our overall health. Being pro-active about our health with exercise does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. We have just learned that a simple activity such as a brisk walk for as
little as 11 minutes a day has multiple health benefits and reduces the risk of several diseases. (To learn more benefits of brisk walking visit www.walkwithadoc.org). If we are being honest with ourselves, we all can find 11 minutes in our day to go for a brisk walk. The benefits are so huge, we cannot afford to not find 11 minutes in our day. An easy way to get our 11 minute walk in is to do it first thing in the morning. Set the alarm to wake up 15 minutes earlier. When the alarm goes off, get up, throw some clothes on, and head outside for your walk. Then go about the rest of your day. Do this, and you have eliminated the worries of when you are going to fit in your walk.
Whether you are young or old, athletic or someone with “two left feet,” most of us don’t have any barriers to walking. The only equipment needed are a comfortable pair of shoes. A supportive shoe with an evenly cushioned sole and good arch support is what is recommended to help absorb the impact of walking. Let’s do it!
Check with your doctor first if you have heart disease or struggle with balancing issues before beginning a walking routine.
Tanaka, D, Tsukamoto H, Suga T, et al. Self-selected music-induced reduction of perceived
exertion during moderate-intensity exercise does not interfere with post-exercise improvements
in inhibitory control. Physiol Behav. 2018: 194:170-6.