Heart-Healthy Walking Workouts

Some people walk a rut in the mud trying to decide upon an exercise program. They don’t like running because it hurts their feet. Maybe they’ll walk down to the gym and have a look around. But those bodybuilders and power lifters are too intimidating, so they just walk on and don’t look back. What about the health club? Walk in and look at all the pretty women with hard bodies. What to do? Keep walking and thinking.

Sometimes you really can’t see the forest from the trees. This whole time you’ve been pacing around you’ve been active and burning calories. Oh my gosh! You’ve discovered your exercise program. Yes sir, walking can be your fitness program. It’s been shown to have many health benefits and there are several variations you can use.

Most people take walking for granted and fail to associate it with any health benefits. They think you have to grunt, sweat and experience pain to be healthy and happy. But, that just isn’t so. Anything that keeps you active can keep you healthy, and here’s how.

Aerobic Power

Contrary to popular belief, walking can increase your aerobic power. Any previously sedentary individual who walks three times per week for 30 minutes a moderate pace will show improvements. Doing so for 12 weeks can increase aerobic power by 12 percent. Obviously, the faster you walk the greater the aerobic benefits.

Body Composition

To lose fat, you must be active and burn calories. Walking is an activity and it burns calories. In a 16-week study, a group of people lost an average of 12 Ibs and decreased body fat by six percent. The group walked 90 minutes per day for five days per week. Walking a mile burns approximately the same number of calories as running a mile; it just takes more time.

Blood Lipids

Walking can increase the levels of HDL cholesterol, which transports cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body. A program of at least 12 weeks of high-intensity, long distance walking will increase the HDL levels in the blood and put one at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

Blood Pressure

If you suffer from mild or moderate hypertension, walking can lower both the systolic (pumping) and diastolic (resting) blood pressure. Even people with normal blood pressure will experience a slight drop in pressure. These reductions may not be spectacular, but they are significant. Other walking benefits, such as weight loss, will also help lower your blood pressure. Walking also lowers your resting heart rate.

Mental Health

Taking long walks can also be good for the soul. Any form of exercise can relieve stress, combat depression and ease anxiety. You may not be able to walk away from life’s problems, but you can walk off the stress.

Bones and Joints

Men lose bone strength as they age, although not nearly to the same degree as women. Regular walking can have positive effects on bone density and lessen the risk of fractures. Because walking places less mechanical stress on the joints, it is less likely to result in injuries.

Think of it this way; the journey to good health starts with a single step. Putting one foot in front of the other is all it takes to get started. Walking is simple, safe, accessible to everyone and has the lowest dropout rate of all exercises. After a while, most people want to experiment with various forms of walking that will further increase their aerobic capacity and strength.

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