By Rose McAvoy
Walking is one of the few activities that I can fit in almost any time. Even at my heaviest I frequently chose walking as my method of exercise. While I walk I like to watch the clouds shift, hear the birds chirp, and keep track of the plants blooming around the neighborhood. On a mild day with a soft breeze it only takes a few minutes for my head to clear and my heart to lift.
During my nine-to-five days, I loved leaving my windowless office for a few minutes to walk around the block. On the nicest days I tried to reserve 20 of my 30 minute lunch break to stroll a little further. In the early days of my weight loss, I only went a few blocks at a time. As my weight reduced and my physical abilities increased I was able to travel more than a mile during those 20 minute walks. After a walk, of any distance, I felt energized and much better equipped to tackle the remaining hours of the work day. On days when I walked I was more likely to fit in additional exercise after work than on days I stayed inside.
The American Heart Association has declared the first Wednesday of April (yesterday) National Walking Day. Don’t fret if you missed it, I declare any day a great day to simply put one foot in front of the other, even if it is just 10 minutes. I prefer to walk outside but it isn’t always an option. Before we adopted our treadmill I would sometimes set a timer and walk laps inside our small house! Local shopping malls also provide great, rain-free, walking spots. The movement is far more important than the location.
The American Heart Association’s website encourages 30 minutes of activity per day for maximum health benefits. If you are not currently active that may sound like a daunting number. Start with a short walk. A good goal may be to go out for the mail but walk around the block before stopping at the mailbox. Do it again the next day and when it starts feeling like a simple no-brainer add a little more distance.
On their website, The American Heart Association has provided a short list of the benefits of walking. I have shared that list below:
Walking Toward a Healthier You
There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.
- Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Improve blood lipid profile
- Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
- Enhance mental well being
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
- Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
Don’t over think it! Grab some comfortable shoes and take a stroll, indoors or out your heart will thank you!
Now it’s your turn!
- Are you already a fan of walking?
- What benefits do you see from this form of activity?
- What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to become active?