Walking is a simple aerobic conditioning activity that requires little more investment than a decent pair of shoes. But walking works. When you walk at a speed of 5 mph, the physical benefits you reap for your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and waistline are similar to that of jogging or running--without the stressful impact to your joints, knees, and shins.
What kind of walking is best?
The answer is brisk, according to Edward Gregg, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control. "People should be able to carry on a conversation but know that their breathing is elevated," he told HealthDayNews.
How long should I walk?
Walk for at least 20 minutes a day. Start slowly and build up to longer walks at a faster pace over hillier terrain. Be sure to stretch your muscles before and after your walk. Most of all, be consistent. Try to walk on all or most days. But remember this: Walking just two hours a week could cut your risk of heart disease in half, compared to a sedentary person, according to researchers from the University of Ulm Medical Center in Ulm, Germany.
What are the benefits of walking?
Walking will increase the efficiency of your heart, as well as improve your lung capacity and breathing efficiency. Walking aids in circulating oxygen throughout your body and is quite effective at lowering your blood pressure. TIME health reporter Christine Gorman says walking may be the best exercise of all. "You may not feel the benefits all at once, but the evidence suggests that over the long term, a regular walking routine can do a world of preventive good, from lowering your risk of stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis to treating arthritis, high blood pressure, and even depression," she wrote.
Added benefit: Walk. Live longer
Type II diabetics who walk just two hours a week will live longer, according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study of 2,896 adults in their late 50s who had been diagnosed with diabetes for about 11 years found that those who walked just two hours a week had a 39 percent lower death rate from all causes and a 34 percent lower chance of death from heart disease specifically, reports Reuters of the study that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Walking is beneficial for healthy folks, too. Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, told TIME magazine: "If everyone in the U.S. were to walk briskly 30 minutes a day, we could cut the incidence of many chronic diseases 30 percent to 40 percent."