Did you know that you can decrease
your risk of mental impairment by 20% just by walking
regularly? And be mentally three younger at the same
Activity is important for everyone,
regardless of age, and there are many benefits to living
an active life. There are many ways to be active and get
exercise, but walking is one of the best.
Why walking? Well, walking is a
simple exercise that can be done anywhere, at any time
by pretty much anybody. You donít need to pay fees or
take classes, you just have to get up and walk!
It is best to wear fitness walking
shoes to make it more enjoyable, but no other equipment
is needed to have an effective workout.
Walking doesnít even have to take
very long to get you feeling better. Loughborough
University did a study and found that the fitness
improvements were about the same for women who walked
for 30 minutes a day as for women who walked 10 minutes,
three times a day. And, in fact, the women taking
shorter walks lost more weight!
Despite all the fitness fanatics
wanting you to jog or run, a long walk actually burns
more calories anyway and has less risk of injury.
So, what are the main benefits of
walking? You can benefit physically, mentally, socially
and with your health.
Physically, regular walking can
reduce weight, build muscle and tone your body. Vigorous
walking will also tone your arms and upper body, so itís
not all about the legs. Walking also increase your
flexibility and co-ordination, which makes every day
living a bit easier and helps you avoid falls and
spills. A good walk will make it easier to get to sleep,
and stay that way, too.
People who walk regularly are less
prone to anxiety and depression. Even from the first
walk you take in an exercise program, you can feel
satisfaction and pride with yourself for getting out
there. This builds your self esteem and confidence, and
even develops your self discipline which can influence
other areas of your life as well.
Once you feel better about yourself,
you will find it easier to relate to other people. If
you pair up for walking, you gain from the extra
personal interactions as a side bonus.
The best benefits, however, arise
from the improved health regular walking gives you.
Regular exercise strengthens your heart, increases the
blood and oxygen flowing through your body, lowers your
blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Diseases such as insulin dependent
diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease and stroke are
less likely in people who are fit and healthy. Thatís
enough reason to walk daily, isnít it?
But there are more reasons!
Walking increases bone density,
regardless of how old you are, and we all know that
denser bones keeps osteoporosis at bay. Osteoarthritis
is eased by walking, too.
Exercising correctly works on your
posture so that you stand and sit correctly with less
effort and thought. Correct exercise in our case, simply
means walking tall, swinging your arms and not over
Many studies have been done on
exercise and its advantages, even for people who start
exercising later in life. Recent studies showed that
women who walk at least 90 minutes a week have a delayed
onset of Alzheimerís and dementia by about 20% compared
to women who walk for less than 40 minutes per week.
Likewise, men walking more than two
miles a day have 20% less chance of dementia than men
walking less than ľ mile a day. Men walking between ľ
and 1 mile a day have a 70% higher risk.
Remember that walking is simple, and
you can do it anywhere at any time. You can take a
child, an elderly person or an unfit person walking. You
can walk alone or in a group. You can walk around the
streets admiring gardens or along a bike track and enjoy
The important thing is to get out
there and walk!
How do you know if you are walking
enough? Use common sense and listen to your body. Donít
push yourself so hard it hurts or you feel strained.
Walk at a comfortable pace. If you
can keep up walking and talk to someone, youíre doing
ok. If you canít talk, maybe slow down a little until
Keep your walking interesting, or it
will get too hard to keep it up. Keep an eye on changes
in local gardens. Set yourself challenges of walking
further in the same time over a month. Walk with a
friend. Take different paths to add variety.
A daily walk is much better than an
apple a day to keep that Doctor away! With so many
reasons to walk, why wouldnít you give it a go?
writer Tash Hughes writes articles on health and family
issues for ezines, websites and magazines. Tash also
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