The Benefits of Walking

How Walking Improves Health, the Environment and Your Gas Bill

“Walking is a man’s best medicine,” said Hippocrates, and modern health care agrees. Alarmed by dropping levels of physical activity – only ten percent of U.S. adults exercise regularly and inactivity contributes to 205,000 U.S. deaths a year – agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Canada have stepped up efforts to promote moderate exercise like walking. Walking, they point out, can help you

  • Reduce symptoms or slow progression of several disease: walking can help alleviate asthma, colon cancer, insomnia, and premenstrual syndrome, to mention only a few;
  • Keep off extra weight ant one up: walking uses more muscles than other types of exercise, stretches ligaments, aids flexibility, and eases muscle aches and pains;
  • Reduce blood pressure, cut heart attack risk, and manage cholesterol: a brisk 20-minute walk can help your heart as much as a 20-minute run, with less chance of injury;
  • Fend off adult0onset diabetes: walking helps regulate blood glucose levels and sometimes reduces the need for medication if you’re already diabetic;
  • Increase bone density and slow osteoporosis: walking can sometimes help rebuild osteoporosis-damaged bone and may even strengthen bones more than calcium supplements;
  • Tune your immune system: one study comparing walkers with sedentary people found the walkers called in sick only half as much as the sedentary group;
  • Maintain mental ability: older people who take hour-long walks a few times a week have better reaction times and mental acuity than sedentary peers;
  • Reduce stress: walking dissipates energy and reverses physiological changes0tensed muscles, constricted blood vessels, higher heart rate brought on by the fithgt0orflight mechanism;
  • Relieve depression and anxiety and improved mood and self-confidence: walking releases hormones that aid mental health, leaving you more alert, energized, and upbeat;
  • Live longer: a study of older men found that the more they walked, the later they died

Walking provides these benefits cheaply: no gym fees, no fancy equipment. It can save money on doctors, too. Brown University estimated the U.S. could cut its 50 billion yearly disease bill if all sedentary citizens walked an hour a day. Overall, the money saving potential of walking rather than driving is huge. You’ll pay less for gas, maintenance, and parking and, if you walk enough to get rid of a car, you’ll save even more.


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