We’ve all heard that regular exercise is good for us, but many people still have questions. What exactly are the benefits? What counts as exercise – do you have to spend three hours in the gym every day to see any benefits? Starting a workout program can be overwhelming. But, did you know you can get significantly healthier just by walking? Sean McBride, PT, DPT of Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation explains how walking can make you healthier.
Walking offers amazing health benefits! The current guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of regular physical activity, such as walking. Here’s a brief overview of some studies showing how walking can improve your health:
- Walking can help manage your blood sugar. One study with more than 20,000 people showed that those who regularly walked or jogged were 40% less likely to develop diabetes. Regular walking can also help diabetics keep their blood sugars from spiking.
- Multiple studies have shown that regular physical activity, including walking, can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 25-30%!
- A review of more than 25 studies found that walking for at least 150 minutes a week significantly reduced the risk of developing depression, and helped manage symptoms for those with the condition.
- An analysis of more than 20 studies showed that walking was effective at decreasing pain and improving function of people with chronic low back pain.
- Evidence shows that exercise such as walking can help manage the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
One of the best things about walking is how simple it is. Even so, be sure to take some time to think through your walk. Here are some important tips to remember:
- Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water, especially when exercising in hot or humid weather.
- Wear proper footwear. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes that are comfortable and support your feet.
- Safety first! Always wear easily visible clothes when walking on or near roadways. Flashlights are a great way to keep you seen and safe if you’re walking early or late in the day.
- Set goals for yourself. Even if you can only walk for five minutes on your first day, try to go for six minutes on the next one.
- Walk with a friend. A walking buddy can help keep you committed to your program, provide you with motivation, and keep you safe. It can also be really fun.
Make sure to talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program. A physical therapist can also help you maximize your walking program, while keeping you safe. Physical therapists are specially trained to analyze your gait pattern, make recommendations for footwear, and evaluate your current cardiovascular health, all to help you make the most of your walk. Request an evaluation with a physical therapist.
Regardless of your current fitness level, walking can be a great way to improve your health and keep you healthy moving forward. So whether you are new to fitness or a long-time veteran, consider starting a walking program today!
Did you know? Sheltering Arms offers fitness/pool memberships and wellness classes that can help you prepare for or supplement a walking program!
Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers offer a network of comprehensive rehabilitation and support services in Central Virginia.