Benefits of walking. I come from a huge family of walkers. Some of my earliest memories are of taking long walks with various relatives. Whether it was trail hiking in northern Ontario or major hikes in the Alps, some of my best childhood memories revolve around walking. While it’s true that now I prefer to go for a run for my workout, I’ve never forgotten the sheer joy and health benefits of a good long walk.
BENEFITS OF WALKING
Good for your heart. A moderate to fast paced walk that gets your heart pumping is great exercise for your circulatory system. It reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke as well as increasing your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering your levels of LDL (bad cholesterol).
Good for your bones. If you are a healthy individual then you should be performing weight bearing exercises to strengthen your bones and walking is the ideal workout. Not only that, but it will help strengthen your joints.
Good for your muscles. You know how great your legs and glutes feel after a long hike? Well, give those muscles a great toning workout. Hint, when you increase your muscle mass your metabolism kicks in and it’s easier to lose weight.
Good for your waistline. Walking is a very legitimate workout which burns calories. The more you walk the more you burn and because it’s not as regimented as going to the gym or to a specific class (ie you can take a walk anywhere and at anytime), you’ll find yourself burning extra calories while toning.
Keeps the doctor away. In addition to being good for your heart, lowering your blood pressure and bad cholesterol, walking has also been shown to stave off osteoporosis, dementia and type 2 diabetes and depression.
CONSIDER YOUR TECHNIQUE
Now, although we walk without thinking about it much and it’s fairly easy to do, there are ways to maximize your workout. When going for a walk, make sure that you are using your whole body, yup your arms count and pumping them will work more muscles. Don’t forget about keeping your head held high and your stomach muscles should be slightly engaged. As you step forward reach with your heel (rolling through to your toes) and feel your glutes engaging on your back leg as it lifts off the ground, propelling you forward.
So while walking may not be the most exciting of activities (although after having hiked in the Alps and the Rockies, I may beg to differ) it’s a slow and steady sport that you can do pretty much anywhere and anytime with very little preparation.
Do you ever walk for exercise?