Walking requires no prescription, the risk of side effects is very low, and the benefits are numerous:
- Managing your weight. Combined with healthy eating, physical activity is key to any plan for long-lasting weight control. Keeping your weight within healthy limits can lower your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
- Controlling your blood pressure. Physical activity strengthens the heart so it can pump more blood with less effort and with less pressure on the arteries. Staying fit is just as effective as some medications in keeping down blood pressure levels.
- Decreasing your risk of heart attack. Exercise such as brisk walking for three hours a week — or just half an hour a day — is associated with a 30% to 40% lower risk of heart disease in women.
- Boosting “good” cholesterol – the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Physical activity helps reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) in the blood, which can cause plaque buildup along the artery walls — a major cause of heart attacks.
- Lowering your risk of stroke. Regular, moderate exercise equivalent to brisk walking for an hour a day, five days a week, can cut the risk of stroke in half in men
- Avoiding your need for gallstone surgery. Regular walking or other physical activity lowers the risk of needing gallstone surgery by 20% to 31%, more than 60,000 women ages 40 to 65.
- Protecting against hip fracture. Consistent activity diminishes the risk of hip fracture.
The Best Medicine
Any amount of walking is good, but for the best health results, set a brisk pace and walk for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. Be sure to check with your doctor on the level of exercise that’s best for you.