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By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

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 time?

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 doing it.

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 tranquillity.

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 you can.

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?


Melbourne writer Tash Hughes writes articles on health and family issues for ezines, websites and magazines. Tash also owns Word Constructions to help business owners have a professional presentation on paper and on the internet. For all your business writing needs, contact Word Constructions then get on with business.
© 2004, Tash Hughes

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