It is common knowledge that regular aerobic exercise is good for physical health. What people don’t realize is that aerobic exercise doesn’t have to include strenuous activities like running, nor does it require any sort of expensive equipment. All that’s really required is a sidewalk, a pair of sturdy shoes, and a little bit of determination. The key to cheap, relaxing, health-boosting exercise? Walking.
That’s right. The simple act of walking regularly can substantially increase physical health in people of all ages. Several reputable organizations such as the American Journal of Medicine and the Canadian Medical Association have performed studies showing that regular physical activity decreases the incidence of numerous serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and osteoporosis and diabetes in both children and adults.
These studies support the conclusion that walking regularly, even as little as an hour a week, can decrease the chances of chronic disease and premature death, and the more you walk, the better your health will become. Walking is a perfect alternative to more strenuous forms of exercise, especially for those who have trouble motivating themselves to go to the gym. The key is that walking still increases heart rate, even though it doesn’t feel like intense exercise. It also causes minimal stress to joints, unlike running and jogging, which can be hard on the knees.
In addition to being great for your physical health, daily or weekly walks have a positive effect on mental health as well. The same Canadian Medical Association study reported that exercise decreased the incidence of depression in test subjects, and numerous studies have shown that physical activity improves brain function.
Further, taking a walk around the neighborhood is a perfect opportunity to organize all of the stray thoughts of the day or the week. It’s amazing how easy it becomes to work through ideas and future plans when there are no distractions. The best thoughts always come in times of peace and quiet, like just before bed or during a shower. Walking, especially with some peaceful musical accompaniment, can function in the same way as that shower. It allows your brain some time to process the events of the day, and plan for events in the future.
Anyone who has an interest in improving their overall health should consider taking regular walks. It’s simple, it’s inexpensive, and it can be done on one’s own schedule, at one’s own pace. There is no easier way to get regular aerobic exercise for the everyday man or woman, so grab an apple (to keep the doctor away) and go for a walk (to keep the grim reaper at bay).