August: Just Walk

"Walking is a Man's Best Medicine." - Hippocrates      

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heartThen just walk – each step is a step forward on the journey to good health, this includes cardiac/heart health.  According to Harvard Health, studies performed over many years on walking and cardiac/heart health show evidence that walking significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular events.

What kind of walking will do this?
All speeds, paces and distances of walking have been shown to benefit our heart health. Walking as little as 5.5 miles a week at a casual pace of 2 miles per hour is beneficial.  Walking faster and longer increases heart health benefits.

Benefits:

  • Walking reduces and lowers the following risk factors of heart disease:
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular stiffness
  • Inflammation
  • Mental stress
  • Obesity

Life expectancy may increase by two hours for every hour walked according to the American Heart Association.

Techniques to gain walking time:

  • Park farther away from the door of where you are headed.
  • Find new intriguing places to stretch your legs.
  • Use walking as think tank time (let your creative juices run to solve problems).
  • Schedule walking meetings at work which not only offers a change of scenery but could make you more productive.
  • Do walking meditation if you are extremely familiar with your walking path. Walking meditation means walking while being aware of each step and of our breath. It is a form of stress relief similar to sitting meditation with the added bonus of physical activity.
Walking is the simplest way to start and continue a fitness journey. Walking is easy, safe and costs nothing to get started besides a comfortable pair of shoes. Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise. With all of the evidence, walking is an important form of physical activity for the heart.

Sources:

  1. Harvard Men's Health Watch Newsletter:  Your Steps to Health
  2. American Heart Assocition: The Benefits of Walking
  3. American Heart Association: Walk Don't Run Your Way to a Healthy Heart
  4. American Heart Association: Easy Tips to Get Active
  5. Michigan State University: Stress Less with Mindful Walking

For more information, contact the author: Pat Jones, MS, Extension Educator.
This publication has been peer reviewed.

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