When it comes to exercise we each determine what we can or cannot do, and how hard we push ourselves. Some follow the all-or-nothing principle, believing that if exercise is good for you it has to be hard, even painful. Experts have recommended high-impact aerobic exercise as a means for increasing bone mass, but a review of numerous studies on aerobic exercise and bone mineral density suggests that walking just 30 minutes per day a few days a week is enough to moderately increase overall bone density. Specifically, an eight-year study of 13,000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised.
As a fitness activity, walking has become more popular over the years as it offers many health benefits:
- Consistent walking can help reduce body fat, cholesterol levels, increase cardiovascular endurance, resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Regular walking, using a moderate intensity, strengthens the immune system, burns calories and keeps weight stable.
- Walking is a natural form of movement and, unlike high impact exercise, does not place excess stress on the joints and boosts bone strength.
- Studies suggest regular walking can help prevent colon cancer.
- Walking is an excellent way to prevent diabetes and heart disease, when combined with a proper diet.
A walking program is simple to start. All one needs are comfortable clothes and shoes; layer loose clothing and shoes specifically designed for walking are the best. One should also keep in mind that every workout should begin with a brief warm-up and a few simple stretches. Walking around the house or in place for a few minutes to get the blood flowing to the muscles before attempting to stretch them is a good strategy. Although walking primarily works the major muscles of the legs, people should not forget to stretch their back, shoulders and arms. This will help them loosen up any tension they may be carrying and make their walk more enjoyable as well as more effective. In addition, beginning walkers can make their workouts less strenuous by limiting how fast and far they walk and focus on good posture, keeping the head lifted and the shoulders relaxed, and move arms naturally.
The popularity of walking as a fitness activity is growing by leaps and bounds. Low risk and easy to start, walking has proved its health benefits in numerous studies. In fact, walking exercise helps strengthen bones because it forces them to bear weight, which is why high-impact exercise elicits even greater gains in bone density. Concluding, walking, the oldest form of exercise, just may be the key to achieving new levels of fitness, particularly for those who need to start with small, achievable goals to get, and stay, on track.
Author: Jonathon Hardcastle -