Fitness Articles

Health and Fitness Benefits of Walking

Reasons to Walk Yourself Fit!

Starting a regular walking program offers numerous health and fitness benefits!

Good for your heart: Walking regularly can help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which contribute to heart disease.
  • According to the long-term Nurses' Health Study, which follows the habits and health of 72,000 female nurses, three hours of brisk walking each week (that's just 30 minutes per day) can lower a woman's risk of heart disease by 30% to 40%.
  • A 2001 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that sedentary women with high blood pressure reduced their systolic blood pressure and body mass by walking 9,700 steps per day at a self-selected pace for 24 weeks.
  • Harvard researchers looked at 11,000 men and determined that one hour of regular, moderate exercise (equivalent to brisk walking), done five days a week, may cut a man's risk of stroke in half.
Strengthens bones and joints: Walking is easier on your joints than higher-impact activities like running or aerobics, but it still helps reduce your risk for osteoporosis and reduces your risk of falls.
  • Consistent activity, like walking, reduces one's risk of hip fracture, according to a study of more than 30,000 men and women ages 20 to 93.
  • A review of 24 studies on aerobic exercise and bone mineral density in women suggests that walking just 30 minutes per day a few times a week is enough to increase bone density by a moderate amount (about two percent) compared to non-exercisers. Walking was the preferred form of exercise by most participants.
Weight control Walking may seem like a leisurely activity, but with the right intensity, it can elevate your heart rate and burn serious calories so you can reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • A study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggested that 30 minutes of walking on most days of the week may be as beneficial for weight loss as 60 minutes of walking (in combination with diet).
  • Researchers from the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center say that simply walking for 15 minutes (or about 2,000 steps) and eating a couple fewer bites of food can help you prevent future weight gain.
  • Without changing diet, a review of pedometer-based walking programs found that participants who take 2,000 to 4,000 steps per day (that's about 1 to 2 miles) can still expect modest weight loss (about five pounds per year).
Benefits for the Mind A long list of mental health benefits have been attributed to exercise, including reduced depression, better sleep, and more.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • Walking is addictive! When I don't walk, I feel like I'm forgetting to do something for myself. - 11/25/2015 9:19:25 AM
    I love to walk at least one mile per day. it helps me think. - 11/12/2015 10:50:10 PM
  • Walking helps me think! Love to walk! - 11/9/2015 6:13:53 PM
  • I can't just talk the talk, I have to WALK the walk! - 10/6/2015 11:10:27 AM
  • 2BFITN23838
    I love walking and tracking the steps on my fitbit flex. It's true that walking not only helps with weight loss, but also with mental health. I always feel some much better after my walk. - 9/21/2015 8:40:56 PM
  • Bookreader8, walking DOES help you lose weight. I'm living proof of that. - 9/21/2015 11:19:44 AM
    Thanks for the article. I enjoyed reading it and I am going to start walking in the afternoons when it is cooler. - 9/9/2015 3:25:22 PM
  • Great article. Will start using my pedometer once again. I have asthma so I can't walk outside in Fl. with this humidity, but I do use my treadmill almost daily and I work out at a Wellness center 5 days a week. - 9/3/2015 9:17:08 AM
  • I love walking, especially walking in lovely places enjoying nature. I find it helps me to find the joy and peace in life when sometimes I'm dwelling on the negatives. I also find it easier to motivate myself to walk, and to walk for longer, as compared to other forms of exercise. - 8/29/2015 8:34:32 AM
  • Walking is a beautiful way to clear your mind and thank God for all your blessings. Physical, Mental and Spiritual health is improved by a simple walk each day. - 8/28/2015 9:18:22 AM
    I walk everyday. I have a fitbit to make sure I hit my target everyday/week. Walking makes you feel much better and more energetic but it does not help you to lose weight! Believe me I have tried for years. There's only one way to shed less! - 7/22/2015 3:59:21 AM
  • This is a really good post. Walking has a lot of benefits and it helps to condition your body with low-impact exercise. People with knee and joint problems often cannot run or do rigorous exercises, but walking is something they can do to improve their overall health. - 7/20/2015 1:07:04 PM
    Love to walk but problem is getting to far away from a Bathroom-- Taking a drug that cause Me to have to go to Bathroom so need to stay close to One-- Have had too many "Accidence" even at Home so Know My limitation's-- It's bad to get Old {65} with T2 diabetes!!! - 7/10/2015 9:02:09 PM
  • LLYOUNG1950
    I the past I have not been motivated to walk. I am retired and go to the gym when we are home, on a some what regular basis However we have a very active travel life. I have read some of the comments from others who walk and it really has inspired me to start walking each morning at a set time. This is an exercise I can do no matter where we are. thank you for sharing - 7/10/2015 6:39:18 PM
  • I like the order of the benefits listed. Moving has more benefits than creating visible change. Walking is a mindset that challenges you to take movement breaks in lots of ways: short, purposeful, lengthy -- take your choice. - 7/10/2015 2:32:37 PM

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