National Walking Day is always the first Wednesday in April. This year it will be observed on Wednesday, April 6.
Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health
Forty-eight percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity. Walking for 30 minutes a day on most days (150 minutes a week) is the recommended amount of exercise. If you cannot do 30 minutes, do what you can, some exercise is better than none. Get a walking buddy, this will keep you accountable and can be a social visit.
Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.
Start anywhere – even low levels improve health and fitness
Physical activity does not have to be vigorous or done for long periods in order to improve your health.
A 2007 study of inactive women found that even a low level of exercise – around 75 minutes per week – improved their fitness levels significantly, when compared to a non-exercising group.
You carry your own body weight when you walk, this is known as weight-bearing exercise and has many benefits including:
*increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
*reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
*improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
*stronger bones and improved balance
*increased muscle strength and endurance
*reduced body fat
Walking for Weight Loss
Physical activity built into a daily lifestyle plan is also one of the most effective ways to assist with weight loss and keep weight off once it’s lost. Some suggestions to build walking into your daily routine include, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, get off public transportation one stop earlier and walk to work or home, walk (don’t drive) to local shops and walk the dog (or your neighbor’s dog).
Find the right footwear
Walking is a low-cost and effective form of exercise. However, the wrong type of shoe or walking action can cause foot or shin pain, blisters and injuries to soft tissue. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, and appropriate heel and arch supports. Take light, easy steps and make sure your heel touches down before your toes. Whenever possible, walk on grass rather than concrete to help absorb the impact.
Consult with your doctor
As always, see your doctor for a medical check-up before embarking on any new fitness program, particularly if you are aged over 40 years, are overweight or haven’t exercised in a long time.
Source: Better Health
Tonda Bradley, RN, is the Director of Nursing at Fayette County Public Health. FCPH offers many programs and services for the promotion of health and fitness and prevention of disease, including immunizations, cholesterol and blood pressure checks, reproductive health and wellness services and health education and outreach. For more information, visit faycohd.org.