Walking's benefits go beyond exercise

August 31, 2012 by Helena Oliviero

More Americans are going for a walk, a promising trend to help fight obesity and improve overall health, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall in the United States, 62 percent of people reported walking at least once for 10 minutes or more during the previous week in 2010. That's up from 56 percent in 2005.

And while the percentage of walkers in the South still lags behind other parts of the country, it saw the largest jump in walking, according to the . In the region that includes Georgia, 15 other states and Washington, D.C., 57 percent of people walked in 2010, up from 49 percent in 2005, according to the CDC. People in the West are most likely to walk, with more than two-thirds of people there regularly walking.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said walking for as little as 10 minutes a week is a great first step toward meeting the recommended amount of 150 minutes per week of physical activity.

"Physical activity really is a wonder drug," Frieden said during a recent news conference. "It makes you healthier and happier; you live longer." Frieden listed a slew of from walking and other forms of aerobic exercise. They included lowering the , stroke and diabetes, and helping get a better night's sleep.

Even if you don't lose weight from walking, walkers can still reap health benefits from this low-impact form of exercise.

Walking, he said, has a lot going for it: It doesn't cost anything, you don't have to join a gym, and walking is something that most people are able to do their whole lives.

The CDC study found are nearly three times more likely to meet exercise recommendations than those who don't walk at all.

Still, more steps are needed. A third of Americans still don't get any , according to recent National Health Interview Surveys.

Judi Mason of Atlanta walks for exercise - as well as to help fight stress and "clear her head." Up until recently, Mason used to work out at a gym and only walked on her "off" days.

But during the past year, back issues forced Mason to settle on low-impact walking as her go-to form of exercise. Mason said she's been pleasantly surprised by the benefits of walking at Piedmont Park. She now walks about 2 miles five or six days a week.

She said she feels like she's getting a decent workout from her brisk walks, and she's considering walking with 1- or 2-pound weights.

"I've also found that I really like being outdoors and I am a people person," said Mason, who is 45 and works as a writer. "It's easier to strike up a conversation with someone at the park than at the gym." In Duluth, Karla Moore, a dating coach, believes walking can help people find mates.

"It is a known fact that being fit is one of those universal lifestyle qualities that initiates attraction. ... I tell my clients that they do not have to be a size 6, just commit to a goal that is within reason and use walking as a way to get there," Moore said.

She said the idea of going to the gym for a complete overhaul can be daunting. Meanwhile, walking, she said, is a "very benign way to exercise." Moore used to run in college, but now she walks regularly with her husband, Michael, along a 200-acre park near their subdivision.

Walking, she said, helps keep the spark of their marriage alive.

Said Moore, "It's really nice to have that time together."

—-

TIPS FOR WALKING

1. Get out the leash and walk your dog. It's a great activity for both man and man's best friend.

2. Take your child for a brisk walk. It's an excellent way to get some one-on-one time. Spice up your routine by exploring new neighborhoods or turning your walk into a scavenger hunt.

3. Mall walk. Are you sweating at the idea of walking outside? Take a brisk stroll around your local mall instead. Window shop, people watch and give your heart a workout in a climate-controlled environment.

4. Walk and talk. Even if you're glued to your phone for work calls, you don't have to be glued to your seat. Make it a habit to talk and walk. Some workplaces have paths to make it easier to burn while you earn.

5. Park and walk. How many times have you circled the parking lot to find "the" spot? Spare yourself the stress and gain more energy by parking far away and farther to your destination.

6. Take the stairs. The elevator may go up - but it doesn't make your heart rate climb. Take the stairs instead. For more tips and ideas, go to www.start walkingnow.org.

SOURCE: American Heart Association

Explore further: Fewer than half US adults get enough exercise

shares

Related Stories

Fewer than half US adults get enough exercise

August 7, 2012
Fewer than half of US adults get enough physical activity for their health, said a US government study released Tuesday.

Owning a dog encourages exercise in pregnant women

February 15, 2012
The study of more than 11,000 pregnant women, in partnership with Mars Petcare, showed that those who owned dogs were approximately 50% more likely to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day through high levels ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.