Americans are recommended to get 150 minutes of physical activity per week if they are meeting physical activity guidelines. For many, the most approachable and easiest form of exercise is walking. While 150 minutes per week is a great goal, it should be noted that is worth it to aim for more exercise than your normal behavior. That way, if you’re currently inactive, getting two 30-minute walks a week is a fantastic way to start building towards 150 minutes. The Journal of the American Heart Association supports that benefits of walking as related to longevity, whether individuals got their steps in one long walk, or multiple short walks, or even brief brisk walks, as long as the participation in walking was a regular habit. Here are some of the many benefits of adding regular walks to your routine.
Walking can be a good general assessment of overall fitness. Being able to walk can give insight into one’s abilities to carry out activities of daily living, like shopping and household tasks. Not being able to walk, or walking with assistance, may limit future mobility, and ultimately long-term independence. Those who participate in a regular exercise routines, even of just walking, are at a decreased risk for developing disabilities.
It all adds up
For those who are sedentary, it’s never too late to start participating in physical activity, and walking can often be the best introduction to exercise for many. Increased opportunities for physical activity, like taking the stairs, parking further away, walking every aisle of the grocery store, etc. can all add up and help to be a part of meeting those 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Those improvements in overall activity help with long term health outcomes.
Goes great with other health behaviors
Exercise is an important part of lowering the risk and managing chronic diseases. Combining exercise with other positive health habits, like stress management and a quality diet, all positively benefit each other. Eating well can provide the appropriate fuel for our physical activity habits and help to support cell growth or maintenance for many parts of the body, like muscles and bones. As a way to manage life’s stresses, exercise can be used for balancing or mitigating stress, and schedules can allow us to feel like we have more time to exercise.
Walking may seem like a daily activity we do without thinking or only as a part of getting us from location to location. However, it can be one of the easiest ways to make sure we’re doing activity regularly and promoting our personal long-term health. So, get up and go for a walk!
Kimberly Burke is the director of the Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University, an outreach program through the Department of Health and Exercise Science. Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more, go to the Adult Fitness Program website.