Everyday millions of Americans make the decision to take steps towards improving their health and well being. Unfortunately, with the hundreds of fad diets and workout regiments being touted as the fastest and easiest path towards our fitness goals, many get overwhelmed before they even begin. Today we are going to look at one of the best exercises for anyone looking to get started on the road towards better health: Walking!
Given the relative simplicity of walking compared to some of the Zumba style cardio workouts that health clubs advertise, walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day can have a profound impact on your overall health. According to the Stroke Association, a 30-minute walk both lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol and increases the levels of HDL cholesterol, reducing risk of a stroke by almost 30 percent. Walking also decreased the risks of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.
Just like any physical exercise, walking will help burn calories and lose weight. Walking just 2 miles per hour for 30 minutes will burn an average of 75 calories, and if you bump up the pace to 4 miles per hour you can burn upwards of 150 calories. Coupled with a diet rich in vegetables and low-fat protein, a workout routine consisting of just walking can help shed some serious pounds!
When we walk, we are forcing our hearts to pump more blood to every inch of our body. That being said, its no wonder why walking greatly improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. In fact, a study at both the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Tennessee, post-menopausal women who walked two miles a day lowered blood pressure by 11 points in 24 weeks. Lower blood pressure and better circulation prevents ailments prevents heart disease, a disease that affects millions of adults across the country.
The sum of all of these benefits of walking is a healthier, longer life. Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60 as they participated in daily moderate exercise (20-25 minute walks or jogs). The data showed that the health benefits seen as a result of regular exercise could tack on seven years to each of their lifespans.
In order to maximize efficiency and decrease chances of injury, paying attention to posture and stride is extremely important. Before you begin your walking program, consult the image below to ensure you are maintaining a good stride.
Mayo clinic walking technique diagram
[Featured Image Credit:stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo]