With warmer temperatures comes an increased desire to get out and enjoy all that Summer in New England has to offer. Walking is not only the earliest form of transportation; it is also the oldest form of exercise. Today, seventy-seven million Americans regularly walk, whether as a form of exercise, to boost brain health, lose weight or simply as a healthy way to relieve stress and enjoy the great outdoors.
Walking regularly has many health benefits. For instance, it can help protect your brain against dementia and memory loss, reduce the risk of heart disease and help decrease the chances of developing type 2 diabetes in high risk adults by 60 percent. According to experts, you will start to see benefits with as little as 30 minutes of exercise several times a week.
See also: Walking: The Easiest Exercise
Still not convinced? Here are some other great reasons to walk:
- It will make you feel great and give you power and strength.
- It lowers blood pressure and medical bills.
- It will help you let go of tension and stress.
- You don’t have to pay a membership fee to walk.
- You don’t have to read instructions or assemble equipment.
- You don’t have to keep score.
- You can check out your neighbors’ yards and houses without their being suspicious.
All you need are comfortable shoes and clothes. Layer loose clothing, keeping in mind that exercise elevates the body’s temperature. Shoes specifically designed for walking are best.
Walk short distances. Begin by trying a half mile stroll and increase the duration each time by two to five minutes. Focus on good posture, keeping your head lifted and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally and breathe deeply, if you can’t catch your breadth, slow down. In starting, avoid inclines or hills. Look for flat surfaces – a stroll on a paved bike path or in the mall is a great place to start (a good ption on rainy or too hot days also). A walk at the beach is another good walking site – it comes with fresh air and lovely views, as well as a good dose of Vitamin D on sunny days.
If you’re just starting out or don’t have 30 minutes to walk each day, split it up into 10 or 15-minute intervals several times a day. You’ll still get the same great results.
As always, be sure to check with your doctor before you start any exercise program, especially if you have been inactive or are substantially increasing your activity level.
Now, get walking! You’ll be glad you did.
Peter Eder of Darien, CT is an AARP volunteer and Board member of At Home in Darien. He is a regular contributor to the At Home in Darien monthly newsletter.