When you think exercise, especially cardio exercise, you may think of running, biking, or swimming. Walking, however, is a very valid form of exercise – it’s widely accessible and provides numerous health benefits.
Walking is the most accessible form of exercise. No special equipment is needed, such as a bike, and no specific place is needed, such as a pool. Any pair of sturdy shoes works, although athletic shoes are the most comfortable. And while some people may not be able to walk, walking is open to many more people than running is.
The federal guidelines for activity for adults include at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, such as going on a brisk walk. Any amount of exercise, however, is better than no exercise. Parking at the far end of the parking lot really does help!
Benefits of Exercise
Physical activity, including walking, provides a host of benefits, including:
Improved brain function and reduced risk for dementia;
Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety;
Improved quality of life;
Improved physical function, including daily life activities such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries and reducing falls in older adults;
Preventing or minimizing excess weight gain;
Reduced risk for several cancers; and,
Reduce the risk of developing a chronic condition such as osteoarthritis, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, or reduce the progression of a current chronic condition.
How to Start
While starting to walk may seem intimidating, Dr. Timothy Yu, a Bon Secours primary care sport medicine provider, gives a great tip to start getting 30 minutes a day of walking exercise: “A simple way to get your 30 minutes a day of walking is to park at least 10 minutes away from your workplace and then take a short 10 minute walk either at lunch or dinner about 5 times a week.” If you don’t drive to work, you may want to take a short, 10-minute walk at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to get the exercise in.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report