It's that time again! Winter has finally seen its last days and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the days are longer, and your body (if you listen to it) is asking "please take me outside and let me play!" And what better way to play than to simply walk? Walking is one of the most popular forms of exercise worldwide and for good reason. AARP says, if a daily fitness walk could be put in a pill, it would be one of the most popular prescriptions in the world.
The health benefits of walking reach far and wide and, coupled with the fact that it can be done anywhere, without any special equipment or expensive gym membership, makes this form of exercise a wonderful and sensible option for people of all ages and abilities!
What gains can be made from a daily walk? As Elizabeth Barrett Browning so aptly said, let me count the ways (and there are so many that I can only name a few here!):
- weight management
- contolling blood pressure
- stress reduction
- decreasing your risk of heart attack
- boosting "good" cholesterol
- lowering your risk of stroke
- reducing your risk of breast cancer and diabetes
- protecting against hip fracture
And the big one: several large studies have consistently shown that people who walk twomiles a day, especially those over the age of 60, effectively cut their mortality rates from all causes of death in half! That's right....in half!
To minimize your excuses to avoid walking, here are a few suggestion to get you moving:
- recruit a walking buddy, possibly a spouse, friend, or neighbor
- strap on a pedometer if you like to challenge yourself to walk further each day
- mix in some fast walking (intervals) with periods of recovery walking
- listen to music or books on tape to make the time go faster
- google Nordic walking and see how effective using trekking poles can be!
So there you have it! No more excuses! Lace up a pair of good walking shoes and head outside (or inside using a treadmill or walking DVD) and see how incredibly good it can feel to simply move and breathe and be alive! Your body will thank you in so many ways!