Walking for Health and Fitness
The Easiest Way to Get in Shape and Stay in Shape!
Why am I so enthusiastic about walking for health and fitness?
Well, I’ll give you 3 reasons:
It’s easy to do.
It’s easy on your muscles, joints, and bones!
There’s no question that walking is good for you.
Think about the tortoise and the hare!
When you step back and take a long-term view at the benefits of walking for health and fitness, you’ll see it makes so much sense to slow yourself down in order to continue walking well into old age.
But, you will be fitter, stronger, happier, and walking will help you live longer!
Walking is an aerobic exercise, which stimulates and strengthens the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s utilization of oxygen.
It also lowers the risk of blood clots as the calf acts as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart.
Walking Prevents Heart Disease
Walking is a form of aerobic exercise and is one of the easiest ways to increase your physical activity and improve your health. Exercise also increases your lungs' ability to take in oxygen, lowers blood pressure, help to reduce body fat, and improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Walking Prevents Cancer
Exercise has a number of biological effects on the body, some of which have been proposed to explain associations with specific cancers, including lowering the levels of hormones, such as insulin and estrogen, and of certain growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression.
Walking Prevents Obesity
Walking helps to prevent obesity and decrease the harmful effects of obesity, particularly the development of insulin resistance (failure of the body's cells to respond to insulin) by reducing inflammation and improving immune system function
Exercise, in general, alters the metabolism of bile acids, resulting in decreased exposure of the gastrointestinal tract to these suspected carcinogens thus limiting the amount of time it takes for food to travel through the digestive system, which decreases gastrointestinal tract exposure to possible carcinogens.
Walking Prevents Diabetes
One possible reason why: when you perform a moderate exercise—like walking three miles, your body taps into its stores of fatty acids to fuel it more than it does when you exercise vigorously, like if you jogged the same distance.
That’s good news for your diabetes risk as an elevated level of free fatty acids can make it harder for your body to process the hormone insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes: A 2012 study of 201 people with type 2 diabetes found that every additional 2,600 steps (approx. 1 mile) of walking each day was associated with a 0.2% lower A1c.
Pre-diabetes/Overweight/Obese: A 2007 analysis, which included five studies examining walking and the risk of type 2 diabetes (data from a staggering 301,221 people), found that those who walked regularly (about 20 minutes per day) had a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Walking Helps Improve Back Pain
Avoid costly physical therapy bills.
Walking is a much lower impact activity than running. Most back pain is relieved with walking and you can enjoy other great benefits as well. By adopting a regular walking routine you will strengthen your hips, legs, ankles, and feet as well as your core.
This helps to provide better stability for your spine. It also helps to increase circulation in the spinal structures, draining toxins, and pumping nutrients into the surrounding soft tissues.
Pain often restricts mobility. Walking helps to improve range of motion and flexibility. You will find that your posture improves as well as your mood. A stronger body and increased flexibility help to prevent injury.
Walking at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes is great for overall wellness and a strong body.
Combine it with a healthy diet and stress relief techniques and you will look, feel, and move better – and your pain will be easier to manage.
Walking Improves Circulation
It also wards off heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart. Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Walking Helps You Do More, Longer
Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living of people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, shows a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.
Walking Lightens the Mood
A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were. Why? Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise.
Walking Leads to Weight Loss
A quick 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped.
Walking Strengthens Muscles
Walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints and muscles, which are meant to handle the weight, helping to lessen arthritis pain.
Walking Improves Sleep
A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk.
Walking Supports Your Joints
The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from the synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. The impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area. If you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.
Walking Improves Your Breath
When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through the bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.
Walking Stops the Loss of Bone Mass
Walking can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York.
Walking Slows Mental Decline
A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17-percent decline in memory, as opposed to a 25-percent decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.
Walking Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk
A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who walked less.
Walking Leads to a Longer Life
Research out of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System says those who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45 percent less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.
With benefits like this, it’s a wonder why everyone is not out walking!
The Walking for Health and Fitness website, ebook, and program were created to get as many people as possible excited about the benefits of walking and to get you to get out and start walking!
Let’s Get Moving
It’s pretty obvious that walking is jam-packed with an enormous number of benefits and few if any, negative aspects.
How do you Begin a Walking routine
This is an easy answer, just put one foot in front of the other! I know, that seems like a wisecracking answer but when you come right down to it, that is what walking is, one foot in front of the other, then just repeat this over and over again.
Along the way, you may want to improve on the thing you’ve done since you were a toddler. Here are some practical tips to get you moving in the right direction.
It Starts with Proper Technique
While there really isn’t much to consider when starting out walking, keep these simple form suggestions in mind.
Head up, looking forward: Keep the ground in your peripheral vision.
Stay relaxed: Especially in the shoulders and neck.
Feel the sensation of your arms swinging: One of the great benefits of walking is the cross-patterned swing of your arms and legs. This rhythmic motion can be hypnotic when you really get into walking.
Breath! In through your nose, belly-expanding to fill your lungs. Exhale through the mouth. A deep belly breath is so relaxing and good for your overall health.
Roll your feet from heel to toe: This simple movement will propel you onto your next step.
Set Practical Goals
Most people think that having a vague idea of what they want and being positive and optimistic about accomplishing it is a goal. This isn’t for you!
Only 3 percent of people have clear, written goals with plans to accomplish them. Only 3 percent of people work on their most important goals each day.
You want to be among the 3 percent!
What are Your Goals?
Before you begin a walking program, consider why you want to begin then set some goals for the following area:
What are Your Health Goals? Lower blood pressure. Lose weight. Regulate blood sugar levels. Improve your outlook on life.
What are Your Fitness Goals? To be able to walk 30 min. Walk up the big hill in your neighborhood. Complete 20 pushups at a time.
Goal Setting Made Simple
Before you actually “walk ” to your goal, you need to take a series of planning steps to dramatically increase the chances that you will be successful.
These seven steps will get you to your set your goals!
Decide exactly what you want in terms of health and fitness.
Write down your goals and make them measurable.
Set a deadline.
Identify all the obstacles that you will have to overcome to achieve your goal.
Determine the additional knowledge and skills that you will require to achieve your goal.
Determine those people whose help and cooperation you will require to achieve your goal.
Make a list of all your answers to the above and organize them by sequence and priority.
By following these seven steps, you can accomplish any goal that you set for yourself.
Planning Your Walk
This is my favorite part of walking! I love planning out where I will be walking. I use Map Pedometer to check out the mileage of my route, find alternatives such as if the road has a trailhead leading from it, and I love to get creative!
What’s over that hill? What are houses like in that neighborhood? What’s the coffee shop like in that town?
I’ve created dozens of walking routes that I save. When it’s time to walk, I look through my list and decide on which one to use.
I love finding new roads to walk on, seeing new areas of my town and the surrounding region. Finding a challenging route to a coffee shop for a break before turning around.
The planning is such a significant part of the walking experience. Finding someplace new to walk is exciting and keeps me walking more and more.
Track your mileage
This goes hand in hand with planning and goals. If your goal is to walk 15 miles per week then tracking how far each walk you go on is a must.
I’ve always tracked my mileage going back to the days I was a runner. In the past year, I’m astonished I’ve logged 1,448 miles!
Keeping track of my mileage has given me the motivation to get out the door and add miles to my total even on days I’d have rather stayed in. After each of those walks, my mood was lifted and I was glad that I completed my walk!
Keep Moving and Motivated
All of the above information should be more than enough to show you the benefits of walking and how to get the most out of walking for health and fitness.
Proper technique, practical health and fitness goals, planning, and tracking your mileage all come together to assist you in putting your “best foot forward” (sorry, I couldn’t resist!).
I believe that walking is the easiest way to get in shape and stay in shape. By taking a long-term view of your health and fitness, you will be walking well many, many years from now and doing it stronger and faster.
My goal for you in using this website and program is:
Develop a consistent routine in preparing to walk.
Develop good eating habits.
Develop good fitness routine habits.
Enjoy the walking lifestyle.
Your Next Step
Sign up for my email list and receive my exclusive Walking for Health and Fitness “Get Out the Door” Checklist.
Also, you will receive a very special gift subscription to Walking Inspiration, the quarterly newsletter from Walking for Health and Fitness.
Each issue contains walking for health and fitness information along with my photos; “What I See on the Road”, diet and nutritional information, walking safety tips, walking video how-to’s, and much more.
Then, get outside and walk!
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