Lace up your shoes and get ready to hit the street for one of the easiest, simplest forms of exercise you can do—walking. Walking is affordable, and doesn’t require any special tools to help you get healthy and enjoy lasting benefits that go far beyond looking good. As with any exercise program, you’ll be more likely to succeed if you have a walking buddy or accountability partner to help you stay motivated and keep you on track; stick with it and you’ll reap rewards shown to impact not just your waistline, but also your mental and emotional well-being.
Health experts recommend a goal of 10,000 steps per day, many of which can be achieved with a two mile (or about 40 minute) walk and everyday activities will make up the rest of your required steps.
Walking benefits your body in a variety of ways:
- Improving your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Studies show people with insulin resistance who engaged in brisk walking several times per week improved their body’s ability to absorb and use insulin properly—keeping blood sugar levels in check and reducing the development of Type 2 diabetes.
- Stress reduction: Moderate exercise such as walking triggers the release of stress-busting chemicals called endorphins. These happy hormones can leave you feeling energized and more focused after a workout.
- Heart health: Heart disease is a leading killer in the United States. Walking at a rate that gets your heart beating more quickly and your blood pumping helps improve heart health, build stamina and keep blood pressure under control.
- Fight breast cancer: Active women who exercised after a breast cancer diagnosis were 45% more likely to survive compared to women who were inactive. Researchers also found that women who were active up to a year before their diagnosis were 30% more likely to survive.
Moderate walking means taking about 100 steps per minute, 1,000 steps in 10 minutes and 3,000 steps in 30 minutes. Until you get familiar with your pace, try using a pedometer to keep track of your progress.