Just walk – each step is a step forward on the journey to good health. Walking is an easy physical activity to begin and maintain. It does not require special skills, facilities, or expensive equipment. Many studies show that walking has health benefits and a low risk of injury. It can be done year round and in many different places. Walking can be done by people of all ages and abilities. Many people with disabilities are able to walk or move with assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers.
How much do I need to walk?
Adults need at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) a week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. This may sound like a lot of time, but there are ways to make it more doable. You can spread your activity out during the week, so you don't have to do it all at once. That could be 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
Walking at a brisk pace may offer many health benefits such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight and losing body fat
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthening your bones and muscles
- Increasing muscle endurance
- Improving your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
- Reducing stress and tension
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 everyone!
Walking: A Step in the Right Direction, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health, Mayo Clinic
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
This newsletter was originally written by Pat Jones. It was reviewed and updated in 2021.