The most natural exercise for human beings is walking. Walking for exercise promotes good health as it rejuvenates every muscle, organ, and cell in our bodies.
When it comes to maintaining good physical, mental, and emotional health — it’s hard to beat a regular walking routine.
Don’t feel safe walking outside? Check out the best home workout equipment to get your cardio in the comfort of your own home.
Just walking for 30 minutes a day is so good for you that you can start noticing significant improvements in your overall health and wellbeing in no time.
Page Table of Contents
- Why Walk for Your Best Health?
- How to Walk for Good Health?
- How To Warm Up for Walking
- How Long to Walk for Exercise?
- Walking To Lose Weight
- Walking on A Treadmill VS Walking Outside
Why Walk for Your Best Health?
The benefits of walking for your health are unsurpassed!
Here’s what can happen with your health when you take up walking for exercise most days of the week:
— Increased Blood Flow
Because walking involves movement of your entire body, you get blood flowing at a faster rate with more volume than normal. Now it’s delivering more oxygen, water, and nutrients to every cell of your body. This by itself is the road to better and prolonged good health.
— Strengthens Hearts
Like any other muscle in your body your heart muscle will gradually decline without use. As it declines from lack of exercise it’s loses it’s vigor and becomes less and less effective at pumping blood through your body. Walking for exercise is a good way to keep your heart strong, healthy, and eager to pump blood through your body.
— Improves Cholesterol Profiles
Walking is aerobic exercise (aerobic exercise means to move your body in such a way that you require more oxygen than normal) and aerobics are known to have a direct effect on your Cholesterol levels. Walking increases good cholesterol levels while helping to move LDL cholesterol to the liver and out of your body.
— Maintaining Healthy Weight
To be honest if you’re planning to lose weight, it’s going to take a lot of motivation to exercise along with better eating habits and diet. However, walking is good for maintaining your weight and burning a few calories to help lose it. I’ve never believed I can walk far enough to lose weight without a change in diet because walking at a brisk pace burns about 90 calories a mile.
— Lowers Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association reports that that you’ll need about 40 minutes of walking at a brisk pace (brisk usually means shooting for 3-4 miles in an hour) to lower your blood pressure. If you are taking BP medication now, walking is a great way to either reduce medication or perhaps dismiss it entirely?
— Increases Bone Strength
Keeping strong bones requires a calcium rich diet, plenty of vitamin D and weight bearing exercise — according to American Bone Health. Walking is considered a low impact exercise so that as it builds bone density it is not harmful to knees and hip joints.
— Walking for Arthritis
The easiest thing to do with arthritic knees and hips is to stay in the chair. However, regular exercise with arthritis keeps your joints going through the full range of motion they were designed to do, keeps blood flowing to the joints, and builds and maintains surrounding muscle strength to help avoid falls.
How to Walk for Good Health?
Walking as a form of exercise for good health means you are walking at a speed and vigor intense enough to accelerate your heartbeat.
The idea is to walk fast enough to need more than normal amounts of oxygen. When you are using walking as a workout routine, it’s normal and OK to open your mouth and make an effort to gulp in air.
A good walk will usually leave you sweating and maybe a little short of breath.These are usually just signs that indicate you are walking the right way for exercise.
If you’re new to walking try moving for about a block pretty fast, and then continue for a couple of blocks (or how long it takes you to recover) at a slower pace.
Doing this will quickly increase your stamina, endurance, and overall strength.
Tip: Remembering to keep your body upright and maintaining good posture will help keep you from dealing with sore muscles.
How To Warm Up for Walking
Like any exercise if you go from 0 to putting out as much as you can immediately you are likely to damage muscles, get sore, and lose your motivation for exercise pretty fast.
Instead, it’s best to go through your own personal warm up ritual as you begin. There’s plenty of ways to ensure you’re body is getting the message that it’s about to start walking.
For walkers it’s fine to merely walk for 3-5 minutes as if you were walking across the parking lot at a normal pace. After that time, start to constantly pick up the pace.
Listen to your body and joints as you begin to pick up the pace. You will feel your muscles relaxing and your joints moving with more fluid motions.
Some walkers like stretching routines before and after a brisk walk.
Stretching is always a plus. I see walkers and runners alike stretching before starting out. I think stretches are more appropo when you’re finished, and here’s why:
Any physical exercise tends to shorten muscles. In fact it’s often this shortening that leaves us stiff and sore after a good exercise routine. Stretching afterwards helps to restore everything back to it’s proper length.
How Long to Walk for Exercise?
A good walk should be a minimum 30 minutes at a brisk pace (fast enough to raise your heart rate) after 5 minutes or so of a slower pace to warm up.
There was a study done many years ago in Japan that indicated that a person should walk 10,000 steps a day. That’s about 5 miles a day, and I can assure you that if you’re just starting out, you do not want to walk or even shoot for 5 miles a day.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advise 7-8 thousand steps a day of brisk walking, or about 2.5 hours a week.
Here’s what I’ve found when it comes to improving my health with walking.
30-40 minutes a day of brisk walking 5 days a week:
- Lowers my cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure
- Allows me to eat more sweets without gaining weight
- Provides me with great looking calves
- Tones and strengthens my entire body
Walking To Lose Weight
Losing weight with walking may not be as easy as you think?
Can I lose weight by walking 30 minutes a day?
Walking without changing something about your eating habits does little to get rid of extra pounds, in my experience.
Let’s think this through together, ok?
- If you walk a 15 minute mile you are stretching out a brisk pace.
- If you walk a mile at a brisk pace, you are probably going to burn 100 calories or less.
- Walk 5 miles at 1 mph and maybe you’ll burn 500 calories
- A Big Mac contains around 563 calories
So, there you have it — walk 30 minutes a day and burn 100 calories a day.
Here’s why you should add walking to any weight loss efforts:
- There is a calorie burn that can go on for hours after a good and substantial walk.
- Walking before breakfast can ramp your metabolism up for more energy all day. This higher energy can help you burn more calories the rest of the day.
- You gain all the benefits we’ve already discussed.
Walking on A Treadmill VS Walking Outside
People often wonder what the difference is between walking on a treadmill vs. walking outside. It is sorta difficult to recognize the differences since these different forms of walking because after all, they both involve walking on your two feet.
I think whether you decide on a treadmill for cardio or walking outside is going to be up to you as they both provide distinct advantages.
Walking outside means your at the mercy of the weather conditions and the terrain. Due to the weather there can be entire weeks you can’t or won’t get outside to exercise.
However when you’re outside you build much more usable strength and balance. Walking outside always entails stepping over things, stepping up and stepping down, twisting, turning, stopping and starting, and dodging obstacles.
In general walking outside is considered to burn more calories and be a better workout.
Walking on a treadmill
Having your own treadmill in your own home means you can walk in your underwear, when it’s snowing outside, watch TV while your exercising, and on and on.
Treadmills come equipped with a perfectly smooth surface, you can increase the incline for more exercise and increased heart rate, you’ll be able to actually watch and control your heart rate with most treadmills, and keep up with calories burned right on the LCD screen.
Last but certainly not least — with a treadmill you can hop off at a moments notice and run to the bathroom?
Which is better?
To tell you the truth, I think that will always come down to your personal preferences. Treadmills cost money, walking outside is usually free. You can walk outside with friends and treadmills are most often a solitary adventure.
Walking is not only good for maintaining your health because it:
- Increases blood flow
- Strengthens your heart and entire circulatory system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces Cholesterol and Triglycerides
- Helps to eradicate depression
- Gives almost every muscle in your body a workout
- Clears you mind of the days activities and relaxes you
- Releases hormones to make you feel good
No matter what workout and exercise routines I am involved with, I make time to walk.
Walking 2-3 miles most days of the week with my wife not only includes all the benefits above, but is good for the health of marriage.