Walking can be time spent with a loved one while also looking after your health.
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In the world of modern transportation, more people take to the street on wheels rather than their feet, and they're missing out on some obvious, and not-so-obvious, benefits of putting one foot in front of the other for a good walk.
If you were to walk just 40 minutes a day, you could enjoy better heart health, mood, strength, balance and much, much more. And if you get creative, it's not as hard as you might think to fit 40 minutes of walking into your day.
Walking 40 minutes per day boosts heart health, helps relieve stress and improves strength and balance.
Walk Your Way to Better Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put forth some physical activity guidelines that should be a basic rule of thumb for all adults. They recommend that you get at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
One of the best ways to reach these goals is through brisk walking, which gets you well within the moderate-intensity range, and you can adjust for vigorous levels by simply adding speed and hills.
If you devote 40 minutes each day to walking, you might be surprised to learn that the benefits extend far beyond better heart health through aerobic activity.
Among other things, walking increases strength and balance and improves joint health, all of which are important considerations as you get older, and degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, begin to take hold. Walking also helps to boost your immune system and wards off bone loss due to osteoporosis. For women, exercising through walking has been shown to help fight off breast cancer.
Walk by the Numbers
If you devote 40 minutes of your day to walking, you'll also fight back against weight gain, which brings with it a host of incredibly serious health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Depending upon the speed and terrain of your walk, a 45-year-old male of average weight and height (5'10" and 180 pounds) can burn 280 calories walking at 4 miles per hour. A woman of the same age who measures 5'8" and 160 pounds can burn 250 calories.
If you increase your walking speed or throw in some hills, you'll boost your calorie burn considerably.
Walk for Mental Health
Another fantastic benefit of walking is its effect on your mental health. Any exercise that gets you up and moving releases endorphins, which control your mood. And walking is something you can do with a friend or two, which makes your 40 minutes sail by.
Walking as an exercise is especially beneficial for aging adults who are becoming more isolated because of a real or perceived notion that they just can't get around any more. A slow walk around the neighborhood results in better balance and health, enabling them to live a more independent and healthy life, and it connects them with the world. Depression among seniors is a very real concern, and a good walking program goes a long toward offsetting this.
While 40 minutes may seem like a large chunk of time in your busy day, when you consider the benefits, it's a very small investment that delivers huge returns. Make a date with a friend to meet up every morning, before the world starts demanding more of your time.
Or split up your walk by getting creative. Instead of driving your kids to school, consider a family walk instead, which benefits everyone (if you live within a mile or two of school, of course!). When you go shopping, park you car at the far end of the parking lot and get in some extra steps.
In other words, you can fit in small walks throughout the day which can add up in order to reach your goal. And with new smartphone technology, it's easier than ever to keep a running count of how many steps you've taken and how far you've traveled. For example, if you walk at an average speed of 3.5 mph, you'll make, on average, 1,000 steps per 10 minutes, which brings you to 4,000 steps over 40 minutes.
Throw in all of your other walking around, even to go get the newspaper, and your steps will quickly add up. The goal for the average athlete is 10,000 steps a day, which you can adjust downward or upward for your own situation.
So call a friend, grab the dog, or check out your nearest park for 40 minutes of walking. With a daily routine, you'll be reaping the benefits, which add up very quickly for a healthier, happier you.