by Dustin Duncan
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Grab a bottle of water and put on the tennis shoes; its National Walking Day. Today is an excellent opportunity for people to incorporate a few extra steps into their daily routine.
Major Health Benefits
People can experience several health benefits when they add walking to their regular routine. Walking can help decrease the risk of many chronic diseases, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and increase energy.
“One of the best ways to jump start a new routine and improve your overall heath is by going for a walk,” said Erin Reznicek, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System family and consumer sciences specialist. “The immediate benefits to a single bout of exercise, such as a brisk walk, include an improve mood, reduced anxiety symptoms and improved cognition for the task being preformed that day.”
The benefits of a walking can be seen in all ages. According to the Arthritis Foundation,walking can improve circulation, strengthen muscles, support joints and lower Alzheimer’s risk, which is especially important to older adults. Children ages 6 through 17 need 60 minutes of physical activity and adults need at least 30 minutes every day, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Other benefits, such as disease risk reduction and improved physical function, can be seen days to weeks after consistent physical activity.
The USDA recommends that people have a target of taking 10,000 steps each day. However, people do not have to immediately do this many steps. Take some time to build up to these recommendations by setting smaller goals.
“Try walking in 10-minute intervals a couple times each day to meet the 30-minute or 10,000-step goal,” Reznicek said. “Eventually, as confidence and physical function builds, you may feel the ability to walk longer or try other forms of exercise.”
Busy schedules can seem to make finding the time for a walk difficult. However, there are many ways people can incorporate extra steps into their day.
- Park further away from the entrance to a workplace, school or grocery store.
- Walk with friends in the neighborhood or take a walk while chatting on the phone
- Suggest a walking meeting at work rather than sitting in an office
- When the chance arises, take the stairs instead of riding in an elevator
- Get outside with the dog or involve the family in an after-dinner stroll