One of the best choices for getting your daily exercise is walking. When Michelle Obama promoted a campaign to walk 10,000 steps daily (the equivalent of five miles), many people began to take notice that walking was easy and fun. As a nation, we also began to understand what doctors have been preaching for years – you need to get up and move, especially if you have a job where you spend the majority of your day sitting.
You can combat a sedentary lifestyle in several ways. Carry those loafers or pretty pumps in a tote bag and lace up your walking shoes before you leave the house. Park as far away as possible and take the stairs if you are able to do so. Once at the workplace, get up out of the chair to stretch several times a day or take a stroll down the hall. If you are not one to hit the gym at the end of the work day, why not erase those dinner calories by grabbing your partner, or your pooch, or both, and walking in the neighborhood?
Walking is beneficial
There are two things that benefit your health the most and they are so simple to do, drink plenty of water and walk. It doesn’t get any easier, or any cheaper than that!
Walking has multiple benefits, and, unlike sports or other forms of exercise which you must expend a lot of money and time to reap the benefits, your “start-up costs” involve just purchasing a good pair of walking shoes, some comfy socks, and perhaps a pedometer to keep you inspired at the progress you’ve made.
Some of the other perks of a walking regimen are:
- Weight loss;
- Reduced risk of high blood pressure;
- A healthy heart; and
- Strong bones and joints.
- Toned muscles;
- Increased metabolism;
- Improved mood;
- Reduced stress;
- Increased energy; and
- Decreased chance of injuries.
Walking is good for all ages – from the young to the very old. Youngsters may be encouraged to be on the move, and combine biking with walking, to get them off the couch and outdoors, something young folks don’t do enough of anymore. As to seniors, retirees can enjoy the camaraderie of walking together in the park in good weather, or convening at the mall in inclement weather, to make great strides followed by coffee and companionship.
Other health benefits
Some people think that walking does not provide the workout that you enjoy with more vigorous exercise regimens. But, just because you are not sweating and red in the face after walking, does not mean that you are not reaping any benefits from this low-impact workout. In fact, doctors have declared that walking is as beneficial to your health as jogging.
Walking helps with back pain
As to those persons who suffer with chronic back pain (incredibly some seven out of ten Americans), walking has the ability to lessen pain, hasten healing, boost strength, increase flexibility, and, in the long run, prevent recurrences.
A study published in The Spine Journal stated that a single session of walking can reduce low back pain 10 to 50 percent. This backs up an earlier study that found only 10 minutes of treadmill walking led to a significant reduction in back pain.
Whether the severity of the pain involves a minor twinge such as a strained muscle, or more severe pain such as compressed nerves or spinal discs, walking will stimulate the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, which are neurotransmitter chemicals that make you feel better physically and mentally. Walking will also block the pain through distraction.
For those who suffer with back pain, check with your doctor before embarking on a walking regimen. But a couple of tips to keep in mind are 1) start out slow and easy, building up your steps gradually, and 2) choose a flat surface for walking because hills force you to lean forward and strain the lower back.
If you suffer with back pain and are interested in beginning a walking regimen, be sure to consult with a spine doctor to get the professional okay first.