Getting fit can be a simple and enjoyable undertaking that doesn’t require any sort of complicated exercise regimen or special equipment. A regular walking program can provide some advantages in terms of preventative health benefits, kind of like a daily dose of protection for the body.
Weight gain is common as people age, especially if physical activity levels decline. When metabolism slows and eating habits remain the same, body composition changes. Fat replaces muscle. Walking is a great way to rev up the metabolism and build back muscle for weight maintenance or weight loss. According to the American college of Sports Medicine, losing 1-2 pounds of body weight per week is recommended as healthy. Eat less (or make different food choices) and move more and you can affect your body composition.
Here are some additional long term benefits of walking for the body:
- The heart gets stronger and more efficient. Reducing the risk for a cardiac event by 31%.
- For women who walked at least three hours a week, studies indicate a 35% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death, and a 34% lower risk of stroke.
- Males who walked at least nine miles a week were linked to a 22% lower death rate.
- Postmenopausal women who walked at least one mile a day enjoyed an 82% lower risk of heart disease.
- Overall, cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness, inflammation, and mental stress all improved.
- Dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction conditions did not worsen.
- A reduced risk of diabetes, asthma and some cancers.
- Stronger bones, especially with progression or building up time and distance walked.
- Toned muscles. Especially the large ones – glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, abs, and obliques, to name a few.
As April dawns, get out there and take a walk. Just one walk. See if the pure joy of a walk motivates you to try it again. If so, you are ready to try to walk every day – in whatever manner you can manage, and for whatever amount of time works for you. If you can walk throughout the month of April, by the end you will notice a change – you are becoming more fit!