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. Continued ›
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health promotion and education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.
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