is to press is a powerful tool for our physical and mental health – perhaps even more powerful than we think.
According to a Harvard Health Special Report published in 2017, walking for about 21 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30%. The report also states that walking “reduces the risk of diabetes and cancer, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and keeps the mind sharp.”
In other words, walking is a free exercise that doesn’t require any equipment or much planning, but it also has significant health benefits.
If this information doesn’t convince you to hit the pavement, here are a few more reasons to embrace walking and tips on how to incorporate it into your day.
Regardless of your age or health, walking is beneficial.
“Regular walking is an excellent form of exercise that reduces cardiovascular mortality … and is often associated with other healthy habits and behaviors,” said Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of the Cleveland Clinic Sports Cardiology Center.
Although walking is not associated with the same energy expenditure as spin classes or interval running, it is valuable and can help people of all ages and health backgrounds improve their health.
“Everyone can benefit from walking,” Singh said. People with minimal or no cardiovascular risk can avoid the disease, and those who struggle with things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity can use walking to meet health goals and prevent future strokes or heart attacks, he added. .
In fact, walking is good for a variety of things, says a Harvard health report: “Don’t be surprised if your doctor gives you a prescription for walking the next time you get checked out.”
Walking prevents long periods of sitting.
Working from your living room, kitchen, or office may have its advantages (no commuting!), but it also has some disadvantages. Due to our current work-from-home style, many of us are sitting more than ever before, and sitting all day can take a toll on our bodies over time.
“Evolutionary chairs are bad, and it’s not so much that sitting is really bad for you,” Dan Lieberman, a biology professor at Harvard University, told HuffPost. “Sitting is bad for you if you don’t exercise.”
Singh notes that walking in a variety of positions can prevent prolonged sitting, which has long-term health benefits.
If you need motivation, try going for a walk with a friend.
Singh said hiking with friends is a great way to create accountability for you and your hiking buddies. Think about it: if a friend meets you earlier in the week for an agreed-upon hike, you’re more likely to lace up your sneakers.
“You hold each other accountable for developing and sticking to the habit of clicking,” Singh said.
And you don’t have to assign your group of friends a high-stress, fast-paced hike. Getting out there will benefit your body. Plus, if you’re someone who likes to walk and talk, you’ll get some great conversation and laughter out of walking with a friend, Singh noted.
You can listen to music or a podcast while walking.
If you’re into more personal exercise, Singh suggests keeping a good podcast, audiobook, or soundtrack for your walks.
Try if you can only hear these things while walking.
“It makes you excited to walk and [you’ll] Get the ‘reward’ of listening to what you love,” Singh said.
If you can’t fit in 21 minutes a day, that’s okay.
Between work, assignments, family responsibilities and household chores, life is busy. Taking time for yourself may not be possible right now, and that’s okay. If you can’t manage the recommended 21 minutes of walking a day, start small.
According to a report from the Harvard Health Organization, “A minute of brisk walking can also pay off.” The report notes that a 2014 University of Utah study “for For every minute of brisk walking the women did throughout the day, they reduced their risk of obesity by 5%.
So start small. Commit to a one-minute walk in your driveway this afternoon, or a 10-minute check-in challenge as you walk around your block. No time is too short.
Once you feel ready, you can start adding different walking distances and intensities, such as variations in speed and hills, Singh said. Both of those things, as well as “maintaining consistent habits, will probably get the biggest bang for your buck,” he explained.