The Health Benefits of Walking
Effective exercise doesn’t have to be hard work. What if I told you there was an exercise to raise your metabolism and cut belly fat without making you break a sweat? As it happens, it’s an exercise you do every day: walking.
A lot of my gym buddies scorn walking. I’ve never understood why; they always have my back when it comes to an hour-long workout lifting weights, but it’s an uphill battle to convince them to walk fifteen minutes to get to a class on campus rather than taking the car. “Walking has a negligible effect,” they say, shrugging. Maybe I should tell them these four facts.
1) Walking a single mile generally won’t take much longer than twelve minutes, but will burn 100 calories.
2) A brisk pace, sustained for only a few minutes, will raise metabolism and send fat-burning signals throughout your body.
3) Walking thirty minutes or more will release endorphins into your body, causing a sense of heightened well-being.
4) The energy burned from walking more than thirty minutes comes entirely from your fat stores, creating a slim and lean look. That means you can burn fat through exercise, and still have plenty of energy throughout the day.
And there are more health benefits. Walking daily significantly reduces the risk of developing diabetes, mostly because losing fat in the abdominal area hinders development of the disease. This form of exercise also lowers bad cholesterol while raising levels of the desired HDL cholesterol.
But the best argument for walking is the simplicity of this exercise, the numerous ways it can be naturally incorporated into your life. If you’re like me and live on a college campus, maybe you can plan to get to some classes or parties by foot, if it’s at all manageable. Or if you drive to work, next time don’t circle the parking lot several times looking for the spot that’s closest to the door. If you’re ever going to drive your car a short distance and are in no particular hurry, think of it as a chance to get in twenty minutes of walking. Bring your iPod if you want!Don’t let anyone kid you. Walking is meaningful exercise that gives meaningful results. It’s easy, and can be done at any time of day, all at once or gradually throughout your waking hours. So start a walking routine, and see great results!