Walking for life is one of the most sustainable and easiest exercises for most people. That’s because walking is already incorporated into your lifestyle and can be done anytime without equipment or expense. When I taught a class in the weight reduction program, we needed to pair people together to ensure long-term sustainability of walking. Social support is very motivational and often the key to personal involvement. If you’re not sure walking is enough of an exercise for you, here are the many benefits.

Benefits of Walking for Life

1. Walking lowers cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure and stroke. This comes as no surprise since exercise stimulates better circulation. Studies show that it increases your good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol. It can lower triglyceride levels especially if done after a meal.

2. It burns calories and reduces your weight. Weight management is clearly a primary concern of most Americans. As you increase your walking speed and distance, you increase your burned calories. Body fat is modestly reduced with regular walking.

3. It improves brain function and reduces dementia. I mentioned in a prior post about brain shrinkage as we age or gain weight. Sending oxygen to the brain is so important as it helps prevent cognitive decline. Studies shows that walking helps you preform better on tests and it even improves memory in seniors.

4. It strengthens bones since it’s a wright-bearing activity. It helps preserve healthy joints thereby reducing arthritis. This is especially important for women who tend to lose bone density with age. Arthritis people tend to tolerate walking better than other exercises.

5. It firms your muscles and waistline. You can easily tone the bottom half of your body and increase arm movements to help with the top half. Adding hand weights increases your heart rate and tones the arms for a better workout.

6. It gives you energy by sending oxygen to your cells. Cells need oxygen to be healthy. This helps prevent physical disability in the elderly.

7. Walking produces endorphins that reduce anxiety and increases mood. Some studies show that exercise is just as effective as anti-depressant medication. You also reduce your stress and improve your sleep.

8. It can be a social activity which also helps lower blood pressure and heart related problems. It increases your immune response, self-esteem and improved mood as well. Studies show that socially oriented people have greater longevity.

9. There is a good chance you will live longer as a regular walker. Studies show that those people who walk the fastest outlive those who walk slower on average. Another study had people walk for 150 minutes a week( 5 days of half hour). This resulted an additional three and a half years to your life.

The great convenience about walking is all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes. I personally walk for as many errands as possible. I’m self motivated, so I walk with or without people. Some people find it helpful to monitor walking with a step-counter or stop watch. Studies show this monitoring encourages people to continually do more exercise, so I’m in favor of it. Since the social part is also very important, try to involve people you know. If you don’t know walkers, you can establish a walking club in your area and you’ll meet new friends and neighbors. The wonder of having workout buddies is that you forget you’re exercising!     L. Johnson         http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

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