The most natural exercise for human beings is walking or running, and is good for health. Walking is a natural way to rejuvenate every muscle, organ, and cell in our bodies for better health. It’s just hard to beat a regular walking routine.
Don’t feel safe getting your exercise outdoors? Check out the best home workout equipment to get your cardio in the comfort of your own home.
Walking for just 30 minutes a day is so good for you that you will notice significant improvements in your overall health and wellbeing in no time.
7 Powerful Benefits of Walking
The benefits are unsurpassed! Here’s what can happen with your health when you exercise most days of the week:
1. Increased Blood Flow
Because walking involves the movement of your entire body, you get blood flowing at a faster rate with more volume than normal. Now it’s delivering more oxygen, water, and nutrients to every cell of your body. This by itself is the road to better and prolonged good health.
2. Strengthens Hearts
Like any other muscle in your body, your heart muscle will gradually decline without use. As it declines from lack of exercise it loses it’s vigor and becomes less and less effective at pumping blood through your body. This exercise is a good way to keep your heart strong, healthy, and eager to pump blood through your body.
3. Improves Cholesterol Profiles
Walking is aerobic exercise (aerobic exercise means to move your body in such a way that you require more oxygen than normal) and aerobics are known to have a direct effect on your cholesterol levels. You will increase good cholesterol levels while helping to move LDL cholesterol to the liver and out of your body.
4. Maintaining Healthy Weight
To be honest, if you’re planning to lose weight, it’s going to take a lot of motivation to exercise along with better eating habits and diet. However, it is good for maintaining your weight and burning a few calories to help lose it. I’ve never believed I can walk far enough to lose weight without a change in diet because walking at a brisk pace burns about 90 calories a mile.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association reports that you’ll need about 40 minutes at a brisk pace (brisk usually means shooting for 3-4 miles in an hour) to lower your blood pressure. If you are taking BP medication now, this is a great way to either reduce medication or perhaps dismiss it entirely?
6. Increases Bone Strength
Keeping strong bones requires a calcium-rich diet, plenty of vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise — according to American Bone Health. Walking is considered a low impact exercise so that as it builds bone density it is not harmful to knees and hip joints.
7. Helps Arthritis and Range of Motion
The easiest thing to do with arthritic knees and hips is to stay in the chair. However, regular exercise with arthritis keeps your joints going through the full range of motion they were designed to do, keeps blood flowing to the joints, and builds and maintains surrounding muscle strength to help avoid falls.
Do you feel uncomfortable exercising due to not having confidence in your knees? If you deal with week knees or injuries — you may be surprised at how well knee sleeves can get you back into action.
How to Walk for Good Health?
To get the health benefits you need to go at a speed and vigor intense enough to accelerate your heartbeat.
The idea is to go at a pace fast enough to need more than normal amounts of oxygen. It’s normal and OK to open your mouth and make an effort to gulp in air.
A good walk will usually leave you sweating and maybe a little short of breath. These are usually just signs that indicate your exercise is working.
If it’s new to you, try moving for about a block pretty fast, and then continue for a couple of blocks (or how long it takes you to recover) at a slower pace.
Doing this will quickly increase your stamina, endurance, and overall strength.
Tip: Remembering to keep your body upright and maintaining good posture will help keep you from dealing with sore muscles.
How To Warm Up?
Like any exercise, if you go from 0 to putting out as much as you can immediately you are likely to damage muscles, get sore, and lose your motivation for exercise pretty fast.
Instead, it’s best to go through your own personal warm up ritual as you begin. There’s plenty of ways to ensure you’re body is getting the message that it’s about to start.
For walkers, 3-5 minutes is fine at a pace as if you were normally going across a parking lot. After that time, start to constantly pick up the pace.
Listen to your body and joints as you begin to pick up the pace. You will feel your muscles relaxing and your joints moving with more fluid motions.
Take a few minutes to stretch before you start.
Stretching is always a plus. I see walkers and runners alike stretching before starting out. I think stretches are more appropo when you’re finished, and here’s why:
Any physical exercise tends to shorten muscles. In fact, it’s often this shortening that leaves us stiff and sore after a good exercise routine. Stretching afterward helps to restore everything back to it’s the proper length.
How Long to Walk for Exercise?
A good walk should be a minimum of 30 minutes at a brisk pace (fast enough to raise your heart rate) after 5 minutes or so of a slower pace to warm up.
There was a study done many years ago in Japan that indicated that a person should walk 10,000 steps a day. That’s about 5 miles a day, and I can assure you that if you’re just starting out, you do not want to shoot for 5 miles a day.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advise 7-8 thousand steps a day of brisk pace, or about 2.5 hours a week.
Here’s what I’ve found when it comes to improving my health.
30-40 minutes a day — 5 days a week:
- Lowers my cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure
- Allows me to eat more sweets without gaining weight
- Provides me with great looking calves
- Tones and strengthens my entire body
Walking To Lose Weight
Losing weight with exercise may not be as easy as you think?
Can I lose weight with 30 minutes a day?
Exercising without changing something about your eating habits does little to get rid of extra pounds, in my experience.
Let’s think this through together, ok?
- A 15-minute mile is a brisk pace.
- In a mile, you are probably going to burn 100 calories or less.
- With 5 miles at 1 mph and maybe you’ll burn 500 calories
- A Big Mac contains around 563 calories
So, there you have it, 30 minutes a day burns 100 calories a day. Without changing your diet, you aren’t likely to lose much weight.
Here’s why you should add walking to any weight loss efforts:
- There is a calorie burn that can go on for hours after substantial exercise.
- Starting breakfast can ramp your metabolism up for more energy all day. This higher energy can help you burn more calories for the rest of the day.
- You gain all the benefits we’ve already discussed.
Treadmill Vs Outside
People often wonder what the difference is between using a treadmill vs. outside. It is sorta difficult to recognize the differences since these two because after all, they both involve using your body.
I think whether you decide on a treadmill for cardio or getting your exercise outside is going to be up to you as they both provide distinct advantages.
Exercising outside means you are at the mercy of the weather conditions and the terrain. Due to the weather, there can be entire weeks you can’t or won’t get outside to exercise.
However, when you’re outside you build much more usable strength and balance. When you are outside you are ways stepping over things, stepping up and stepping down, twisting, turning, stopping and starting, and dodging obstacles.
In general, outside is considered to burn more calories and be a better workout.
Walking on a treadmill
Having your own treadmill in your own home means you can exercise in your underwear, when it’s snowing outside, watch TV while your exercising, and on and on.
Treadmills come equipped with a perfectly smooth surface, you can increase the incline for more exercise and increased heart rate, you’ll be able to actually watch and control your heart rate with most treadmills, and keep up with calories burned right on the LCD screen.
Last but certainly not least — with a treadmill, you can hop off at a moments notice and run to the bathroom?
Which is better?
To tell you the truth, I think that will always come down to your personal preferences. Treadmills cost money, walking outside is usually free. You can walk outside with friends and treadmills are most often a solitary adventure.
Walking is not only good for maintaining your health because of it:
- Increases blood flow
- Strengthens your heart and entire circulatory system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces Cholesterol and Triglycerides
- Helps to eradicate depression
- Gives almost every muscle in your body a workout
- Clears your mind of the days’ activities and relaxes you
- Releases hormones to make you feel good
No matter what workout and exercise routines I am involved with, I make time to walk.
Walking 2-3 miles most days of the week with my wife not only includes all the benefits above but is good for the health of the marriage.