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Just Walk it Out

Updated on August 24, 2020

The average baby in the U.S. is able to independently walk around the age of 12 months, or 1 year. This is an important step (pun intended) in a child’s development, and this importance carries out through their adult life. There are numerous health benefits to walking, and especially if you are just starting out with an exercise routine, walking might be a suitable option.

There are quite a few muscles involved in walking. The quadriceps at the front of your thighs raise and push your leg and thigh forward. The hamstrings at the back of your thighs move your legs backward. The buttocks complete the backward movement of each step. Every time you take a step, your stomach muscles contract. Other muscles involved in walking include the calves, pelvis, arms, and shoulders.

Benefits of walking:

  • It burns calories

  • It strengthens your heart

  • It can lower blood sugar

  • It eases joint pain

  • It boosts immune function

  • It boosts your energy

  • It improves your mood

  • It can extend your life

  • It tones your legs

  • It can help you think creatively

As far as extending your life, walking has incredible benefits of managing various health conditions and even preventing serious illnesses and diseases from ever occurring. Walking can improve cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress. Moderate exercise, like walking, can also protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, and colon cancer.

You have probably heard the health tip that you should walk 10,000 steps every day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. This amounts to about 7,000 to 8,000 steps every day. So do you really need 10,000 steps a day? You should shoot for the weekly 150 minutes of moderate activity, but with walking, more is always better.

Walking is a simple way to make up for the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. It is not uncommon for people to live sedentary lifestyles, but it is not healthy. Studies show that being sedentary can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early death. You can break up your times of inactivity with a few minutes of walking, and this can make a significant impact.

Your body was made to withstand movement and activity. You can’t even eat without using energy, so it should be obvious that you have to move to live! Being sedentary can lead to weight gain, which forces your muscles and organs to work harder. Low movement restricts your blood flow, leading to inflammation and loss of flexibility. Movement is important for bone strength, so not moving weakens your bones and can cause osteoporosis. You may not realize this, but your physical state has a significant impact on your mental health. A sedentary lifestyle can deteriorate your mental health and lead to mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and dementia.

The good thing about walking is that the little moments of walking contribute to your overall movement for the day. Depending on how fast you are walking, it can take around an hour and 40 minutes to walk 10,000 steps. This is quite a bit to do all at once! You can split little walks up throughout your day. For the past couple weeks, my coworkers and I (who all work desk jobs) have walked a lap around the building every 45 minutes to one hour. Not only does it help me feel more focused and less stiff, but it adds to my steps for the day.

Here are some other tips for walking more:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes

  • Track your steps with a pedometer or watch

  • Walk between errands instead of driving

  • Cook dinner in your kitchen

  • Walk on your lunch break

  • Walk to work (if possible)

  • Find a friend to walk with

  • Go to the mall

  • Change your walking routine

  • Listen to music or a podcast while you walk

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

  • Take multiple trips when carrying groceries

  • Walk around while you brush your teeth

  • Park far away

  • Walk during television commercials

  • Go window shopping

  • Take the long way to your items in the grocery store

  • Walk while you talk on the phone

  • Get out of your car instead of going through the drive thru

  • Do housework or yard work


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