Walk Your Way to Better Health

Walking is my way of dealing with the daily stress of life. I walk every day—rain or shine. When a recent snowstorm hit our area and temperatures dropped to single digits, I took a few days off from walking. I was almost stir-crazy by the time I could get back to my daily walk.

There are many great things about walking. Almost everyone can do this low-impact exercise. While I walk at a brisk pace, you can choose your speed. It’s free. And, it’s a great way to enjoy being outside. Here are some health benefits of walking.

  1. Walking lowers your risk multiple diseases. According to the Stroke Association, a 30-minute walk can reduce your risk of stroke up to 27 percent. It lowers your risk or helps manage Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
  2. Walking burns calories to help you lose weight. Calorie burn is directly related to the terrain and how fast you walk.  You’ll burn more calories walking up and down hills than on even pavement. Walk for 30 to 60 minutes a day, and you’ll see a difference in your weight.
  3. Walking gives you an attitude boost. Exercise releases endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety. Just getting out for 15 minutes can make a positive difference in your mood.
  4. A study by National Academy of Sciences showed an average of 2 percent increase in size of the hippocampus for elderly people who walked for 40 minutes three times weekly for a year. This part of the brain controls memory, so regular walking is a great way to help preserve your memory.
  5. Walking briskly offers aerobic benefits by strengthening your heart, lungs, bones and skeletal muscles.  It tones your legs, glutes and tummy. Vary your speed and choose a hilly terrain for even more benefits.

Short walks are an important part of recuperating from injuries, surgeries or other major illnesses. When I had breast cancer eight years ago, I put on my Patient Scrubs® and went for a short walk every day. My walks were longer on some days than others, but I could feel the difference in every cell of my body. Today, a brisk walk still keeps me feeling my best.

Try to work a short walk into your daily routine. Whether it’s before work, your lunch hour or early evening, I’m betting that you’ll feel a difference—in your achievements, your sleep and your overall well-being.

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