Walking Your Way to Health

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A perfect way to begin an exercise program is to start walking. Becoming physically active is of utmost importance in the prevention of several chronic diseases, weight management, and developing a healthy lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published physical activity guidelines for children (6-17 years of age), adults (18-64), and older adults (65 or older).

Walking is a low-impact exercise which can provide many individuals with the opportunity to complete an aerobic activity several days per week and satisfy the aforementioned guidelines. Walking can be completed at a variety of intensity levels and amounts of time. Any moderate- or vigorous-intensity walking (i.e., “brisk walking”) for at least 10 minutes in length will be productive for your physical fitness.

Benefits of walking include lowering one’s blood pressure, managing weight, reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and improving physical and mental health (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Read more information concerning proper walking technique, wearing suitable athletic shoes, and initial warm-up to prevent injury

Scheduling a time to walk and identifying people who can walk with you may be helpful in maintaining a walking regimen. In addition, it is important to walk in a safe area. For example, walking at a shopping mall or at a local fitness center may be viable options. If you decide to walk in your local neighborhood, use sidewalks when possible and wear light-colored or reflective clothing so motorists can see you.  If a sidewalk is not available and you must walk alongside a roadway, be sure to face into oncoming traffic.

Walking is an inexpensive activity which can produce invaluable physical and mental benefits for all participants. Prior to beginning any exercise program, it is advantageous to consult with your physician.

Dr. Scott Johnson
Dr. Johnson is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy. He has a doctorate in sports psychology and master’s degrees in business administration, sports business administration, athletic coaching education, counseling, and sport behavior.

References

Mayo Clinic (n.d.). Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health. Retrieved December 28, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Physical activity for everyone: How much physical activity do you need? Retrieved December 28, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html