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 used to be my main exercise. I would get up early in the morning and walk before going to work. Once while walking I saw the space shuttle coming in to land. What a sight!
    But I've injured my back and can only walk for about 20 min. max before my leg goes numb. I can walk once around my subdivision but that's it. So I have to use the recumbent bike for full cardio.

    - 3/27/2015 11:34:25 AM
  • My hubby and I walk about 4 to 5 miles each morning. That is when we talk, discuss and make our decisions on what we want to do for the day and with the rest of our retirement. That's where we came up with the idea to sell our house and design our retirement home. I have to admit a lot has been done on those morning walks. Oh Ya it really keeps the pounds off. If we miss a day because of bad weather it just throws your whole day off. - 3/27/2015 9:15:35 AM
  • These are great reasons to start walking, thank you! - 3/26/2015 10:17:14 PM
    I am a dog walker. I tracked myself using my spark tracker and discovered that I walked 40 miles a week OMG!!! Nobody is more surprised than me. Unfortunately, the dogs take their own sweet time and there is a lot of sniffing. I wish I could get them to GO for 1 minute as fast as possible, but they seem to want to go instead lol. I wonder if walking on the spot would substitute for actual walking? - 3/10/2015 7:20:15 AM
    Have been walking in the house yesterday I finally reached over 10,000 steps on my fitbit - 2/19/2015 10:42:14 AM
  • This is encouraging: "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)."

    I have a desk job and a 40-50 min commute. I thought I had to do 10k steps/daily to benefit. Not so ... thanks! - 2/18/2015 1:27:42 PM
    i just wanted to add that walking is a great way to improve posture. Walk with your waist and let the rest of your body follow and it will get easier. Also theres no reason to walk fast if you dont enjoy it! Walk for longer but nice and slow and your body will thank you.
    Just my 2 cents :) - 3/19/2014 2:12:17 PM
  • walking is great for the whole family to bond - 1/27/2014 4:49:00 AM
  • I have just started walking 3 times a week for an hour each time.....I feel so good when I complete what I started. What bothers me is I will start out good and then I stop. I want to keep up the good work, I need more motivation. - 12/28/2013 9:07:10 PM
  • Why does the picture look more like someone running? Is there something wrong with showing someone actually walking? - 6/23/2013 5:35:01 PM
  • Great article. This girl told me in water aerobics that walking in the water was good. She gave me some pointers. But I love to walk and smell the fresh air. - 6/16/2013 8:12:41 AM
  • The benefits of walking are seemingly endless.... New research recently reported on one of the oddest benefits we get from walking... I wrote about it here -

    - 3/8/2013 7:38:14 PM
    Walking is the only form of exercise I truly enjoy. My New Year's resolution this year was to walk 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. Without any struggle at all, I've walked at least 45 minutes a day every day this month. Yesterday I walked for 90 minutes at a 4 mph pace and felt great afterwards. Being in the fresh air (even when it's cold!), listening to music, getting to know my neighborhood....a
    ll these things contribute to me feeling less stress, more peace, more accomplishment...
    .and that's not even counting the health benefits to my body. My blood pressure and resting heart rate have even gone down. I've already taken a 30-minute walk this morning and am about to leave for an afternoon walk in a few it. - 2/1/2013 2:47:28 PM
  • I used to absolutely hate walking, too slow I said, would rather do the dreadmill or eliptical of the day do cardio and sweat buckets and lift heavy weights, did Zumba everything. None of that helped me lose any weight, I had a bit more muscle mass but not that you would notice. Then I was out of exercise with an injury for 16 months, I was released to walking now and I can tell you that I absolutely love it now. The fresh air, the way it makes you feel like you accomplished something and even feeling my muscles again is pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to feeling more limber and helping my body get stronger. The healthy eating just goes with it for me. I don't usually talk this much, but it was an aha moment - 1/4/2013 7:11:48 PM

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