Walking is one of the best ways to exercise and doing it regularly can yield an array of health benefits. It’s an easy, accessible, inexpensive way to keep active, whether you prefer a solo stroll or being flanked by family.
Here are five reasons for walking, from UR Medicine Primary Care’s Dr. Didem Miraloglu.
- Walk to reduce your disease risk. There’s convincing evidence that regular exercise contributes to lowering your heart attack risk as much as 86 percent, and your risk for stroke up to 50 percent. In addition, being physically active is linked to reduced risk for some cancers, including colon, breast, lung, prostate, and uterine cancer.
- Walk to get stronger. Exercise helps keep your muscles and joints strong. It replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of your joints, reducing stiffness and pain that is common with arthritis. And it helps maintain bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.
- Walk to tame tension. Being active on a regular basis will help you manage stress and ward off worrying. It promotes the production of hormones that improve brain function and mood. It may even ease the pain of a headache.
- Walk to ward off diabetes. Exercise helps lower your blood sugar and can prevent, or help you manage, type 2 diabetes. It improves the way your body uses insulin, the hormone that helps turn sugar into energy, in the short term. When you’re active regularly, it can improve your A1c, a test used to diagnose diabetes by measuring a long-term average of your blood sugar level.
- Walk to add years to your life. In a study involving more than 650,000 people, those who got 2½ to 5 hours of brisk walking each week gained and average 3.4 years in life expectancy, and those who got half as much exercise lived an average of 1.8 years longer. In fact, in many cases, exercise was a bigger factor than body weight. Normal-weight inactive people in the study lived an average of 3.1 fewer years than obese people who kept up high levels of activity.