Walking: A gentle, low-impact activity that can ease you into a higher level of fitness, health and long-term wellness. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, more than 60 percent of adults in the United States do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity, and approximately 25 percent of American adults are not active at all. Physical inactivity can lead to chronic diseases and conditions like heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and osteoporosis. Healthcare costs related to these conditions total more than $600 billion nationally.
Reduce your risk of a heart attack. Walking keeps your heart healthy by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).
Manage your blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, walking may reduce it.
Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're a woman, overweight and at a high risk of diabetes, walking can improve your body's ability to process sugar (glucose tolerance).
Manage your diabetes. If you already have type 2 diabetes, taking part in a regular walking program can improve your body's ability to process sugar, lower your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease and may help decrease the amount of insulin or other medications needed to control your condition
Manage your weight. Walking burns calories, which can help you manage your weight. Middle-aged women who walk more than 10,000 steps a day have lower levels of body fat than do women who are less active. Walking burns approximately the same amount of calories per mile as does running. Walking briskly for one mile in 15 minutes burns about the same number of calories as jogging an equal distance in 8.5 minutes.
Manage stress and boost your spirits. Going for a brisk walk is a great way to reduce stress. Regular walking also can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Stay strong and active. Walking is the only exercise in which the rate of participation does not decline in the middle and later years. In a national survey, the highest percentage of regular walkers for any group (39.4%) was found among men 65 years of age and older. (President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports)
So, like we say, let’s “move to improve.” With each step you take, you’ll be making an investment in wellness—and your future health and happiness.