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Healthy You

Step in the Right Direction: Benefits of Walking

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 10:34 AM

Many of us have heard that a physically active life has many benefits. But what if running is too hard on our bodies or we cannot afford to be laid up on injury? Your physical activity doesn’t have to be extreme; it can be as easy as walking! Gordon Wood, MD, Pediatrics at NorthShore, suggests maximizing your efforts by walking at a brisk pace over a longer period of time.

Health Benefits of Walking

Not sold that walking can be beneficial? Dr. Wood shares some surprising perks:

  • Free and easy. There is no gym membership required for walking. If you don’t want to walk outside in the winter, head to the malls to do power laps while window shopping. When you’re walking, keep proper posture; head is up, neck and shoulders are relaxed, your core is engaged slightly and you’re walking from heel to toe.
  • Healthy weight. Walking can help you maintain or work towards a healthy weight.
  • Preventative action. Taking strides helps you make strides against heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
  • Strengthen. Walking can help strengthen your bones which helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Brighten your day. Your body releases endorphins when you do physical activity, which helps lift your mood.
  • Balancing act. If you walk with the proper technique – by engaging your core – you’ll improve your balance and coordination.
  • Sharp mind. Walking increases your blood flow – which is believed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Improve arthritis. Continuous movement helps reduce arthritis pain and prevent disability.

Before you hit the ground walking, ease into it just as you would with any other physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends getting in 150 minutes of physical activity a week – that’s 5 days of 30 minute exercises. If you cannot get 30-minutes of walking in at once during the day, break it up into three 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions. The more you walk – and the faster you walk – the more benefits you’ll receive.

What tips would you give someone who just started walking for exercise?