Don't let the benefits of walking pass you by
As winter gives way to spring, some of us may be emerging from a state of seasonal sedentary syndrome. In honor of National Walking Day and April’s Move More Month, it may be time to lace-up those sneakers and start finding your stride.
Many studies have shown walking more and sitting less may help people maintain a healthier weight, ward off depression and prevent serious health issues like heart disease. Some lesser-known findings include:
- In a 12-year study of thousands of men over 60, those who walked more than 22 hours per week had one third the risk of stroke as those who walked less than four hours per week.
- Participants in a “Happy Feet” study who walked 10,000 steps for 100 consecutive days saw positive improvements in mental health.
- Other benefits cited in a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School include curbing sweet cravings, boosting the immune system and easing joint pain.
If you see runners while you're out moving and wonder if walking is a cop-out, rest assured that studies say no. Maintaining a quick walking pace has been shown to lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running.
Inspired to get walking? Consider these suggestions to stay motivated step after step:
- Get a wearable device to track progress. They’ve been shown to help people remain diligent in achieving those daily step goals.
- Pair up with a walking pal. Find someone to hold you accountable and offer positive support. This study found several advantages of recruiting a new workout friend.
- Enlist a walking group at work or in your neighborhood. Recent research found that working out in a group lowers stress by 26% and helps improve quality of life, as compared to working out alone.
- Keep your walks from getting boring by exploring a neighborhood trail or scenic pathway. This site has various walking resources and 10,000-step walking routes in more than 50 cities nationwide, helping people visualize what that distance looks like in their local communities.
The American Heart Association established Move More Month as a way to encourage people, schools, workplaces and communities to walk at least 30 minutes per day and take a step toward better health. Following these tips can help you do just that.