Posted on Apr. 2, 2014 (
Today is National Walking Day. But the fact is, walking should be a daily part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
“Walking is great exercise,” says Lisa Lovejoy, MEd, RD, CSSD, a sports and wellness dietitian with MultiCare’s Center for Healthy Living who specializes in fitness. “It’s an activity that pretty much everyone can do, it doesn't require special equipment, training or shoes, and little bits throughout the day can add up to big changes over time.”
Like any regular physical activity, walking can provide numerous health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, lowering your blood pressure, and helping prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. Plus it can help relieve stress and improve your mood.
Although research has shown that running a mile DOES burn more calories than walking, walking can still be a great tool for weight loss and weight maintenance. Unlike running, or other more strenuous exercise, walking can be done just about anywhere, it’s an easy activity to fit in to your day and it’s kinder to joints than high-impact activities like running.
Research also suggests that people who are inactive, or sedentary, much of their day (for example, people who sit all or most of the day at work), may have a shorter life span than people whose jobs are more active — even if those people work out on a regular basis outside of work. Getting up and away from your desk to walk throughout the day — even if it’s down the hall to talk to a co-worker — is a great way to counteract the effects of having a sedentary job.
How much walking should you shoot for each day? Are those 10,000 steps really necessary?
“10,000 steps is the â€˜recommended’ place to start,” says Lovejoy.
Taking 10,000 steps a day is roughly the equivalent of walking five miles, which may sound like a lot — until you consider that physical activity guidelines for American adults currently recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity (think "late to a meeting" walking pace) each week.
“And to prevent weight gain,” says Lovejoy, “these numbers go up to 150 to 200 minutes a week, and for active weight loss, the numbers increase even more, from 150 to 225 minutes to 225 to 420 minutes a week, depending on your weight loss goals. Do more, lose more.”
With spring comes warmer, sunnier and — hopefully — drier weather. In short, it’s the perfect time of year to add a walk into your daily routine, and to make every day a walking day.
Maura is our senior content editor. She writes extensively about health and wellness topics, from fitness and nutrition to medical insurance. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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