Friends and family tell me how fun it is going to the gym and that it’s a great way to exercise. I beg to differ, and politely decline their offers to lift weights or ride the stationary bike with them. Why? Because walking is the best exercise ever!
What the experts say. Experts at the Mayo Clinic state, “Walking, like other exercise, can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. Walking can help you:
- Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
- Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
- Manage your weight
- Improve your mood
- Stay strong and fit
“Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.”
My regimen. Due to several physical issues, I often wake up with stiff joints in the morning. Walking keeps my joints lubricated so that the stiffness doesn’t become a problem. For that reason, my weekly target is to go walking 7 days a week, but I settle for a minimum of 5 if life is busy. Here’s how I work it:
- Distance and occurrence – walk a mile a day, for at least 5 days/week.
- Optional – walk a second time, 3 days per week.
- Speed – brisk movement.
- Optional – increase pace with 2-4 speed bursts per walk.
- Incline – Walk on roads with slight incline at one end.
- Optional – increase output by walking roads/trails that traverse moderate incline hills, 2 times/week.
More of my reasons for walking. Going beyond the significant physiological health benefits and into the practical, here are a few other reasons why walking is the best exercise for so many people. You can:
- Walk any place – cities, towns, rural areas, wilderness areas.
- Go walking in any weather – just walk indoors instead of outdoors in bad weather.
- Obtain variety – walk someplace different every day, if wanted.
- Walk with or without a partner.
- Enjoy toned legs – oh, what shapely calves!
Think about it … how many gyms are there in the middle of the thickest woods, on the highest mountaintops, or in the middle of nowhere? Oh, that’s right – none! But, walking opportunities abound no matter what your location, age, marital status, or tax bracket. Try it for a few months and see if you don’t agree that walking is the best exercise!
Richard Weil, MEd. CDE., “Walking,” MedicineNet.
Martina Navratilova, “Walking, the Easiest Exercise,” AARP.
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