It's cheap. It's easy. And, it's good for you. So take a walk. The President's Council on Physical Fitness (PCOPF) calls walking the most popular form of exercise. It may not get the attention of other physical activities but when it comes to sheer numbers, walking tops the list.
Walking is good for everyone and when it comes to participants, according to PCOPF, it's the only exercise activity that doesn't lose people as they get older. In fact, the highest number of regular walkers, according to a recent study, was men over 65.
Walking burns calories. You can use our calculator on the left to see how many. But the benefits don't stop there.
When it comes to walking, the health benefits are numerous. that a regular walking program can result in some of the following:
* lower resting heart rate
* reduce blood pressure
* burn excess calories
* reduce stress
* increase muscle tone
Obesity and high blood pressure lead to all sorts of other health problems, so a walking program can help reduce your risk of things such as heart attacks and stroke, according to PCOPF.
Before starting out on any exercise program, it's important to check with your doctor. NIDDK has this checklist for you before you begin.
* Have you ever been told you have heart problems?
* When you do something active, do you get chest pain or pain on the side of your neck, or in your shoulder or arm?
* Are you out of breath after exertion?
* Do you have high blood pressure?
* Do you get dizzy?
* Do you have joint issues, such as arthritis, that could be made worse?
* Has your life been relatively sedentary and are you over 50?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is very important that you discuss any exercise plan with your doctor.
So how much walking should you do? To get the benefits of walking, you just need to start, but here are some comparisons from PCOPF. You'll burn about the same amount of calories from walking or running a mile. It's also easier on your joints. And here's one of those times that being heavier pays off. Heavier people burn more calories walking the same distance than do lighter people. Don't forget to warm-up and warm down and stretch both before and after walking. NIDDK and PCOPF both recommend that you try to work your way up to about 45 minutes three to four times a week. That should be the goal, not something you do right away. Shorter distances and less time are the watchwords starting out.
There are some things you should be careful about with your walking program. A good pair of shoes with a sturdy heal support is imperative.
* Dress appropriately for the time of year, in layers so you can shed layers if you get too warm.
* Walk in daylight or well lit areas at night.
* Wear reflective clothes if you do walk at night.
* It's best to walk with someone else.
* Don't wear headphones. It could prevent you from hearing a car.
Walking is a simple way to exercise that doesn't require a lot of equipment or a special place. You can keep up your exercise program even when you are traveling.