Being active has been shown to have a positive effect on the way our brains work, and with the latest figures showing dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80 it’s worth bearing in mind that regular exercise reduces that risk by up to 40 per cent. What’s more, older people who walk six miles (9.65 kilometres) or more per week can avoid brain shrinkage, preserving the memory for longer.
Regardless of how many calories you burn, adding walking into your daily routine can have profound health benefits! Going on regular, brisk walks can help you maintain a healthy body weight and stave off diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and hypertension. In addition, regular walking helps improve bone density and leads to increased muscle strength.
Whatever your preferred exercise intensity, it’s also important to choose activities that you enjoy and will stick with over the long term. Walking, biking, hiking, dancing, and gardening are all great forms of aerobic exercise that you can easily integrate into your day. After all, aerobic exercise can greatly improve your health even if you perform it in shorter segments throughout the day.
Vary your route if you're getting bored. To increase your fitness, add a route with some hills or changes in terrain. Or alternate routes on different days of the week. Keep your workout interesting. Many people walk with a buddy or in groups for support and motivation. While lots of walkers swear by their iPods to keep them going, others prefer to pay extra attention to the sights and sounds around them. Find the solution that keeps you moving.

While walking can provide many of the same health benefits associated with running, a growing body of research suggests running may be best for weight loss.Greater weight loss from running than walking during a 6.2-yr prospective follow-up. Williams PT. Medicine and science in Sports and Exercise, 2013, Nov.;45(4):1530-0315. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people expend 2.5 times more energy running than walking, whether that's on the track or treadmill.Energy expenditure of walking and running: comparison with prediction equations. Hall C, Figueroa A, Fernhall B. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2005, Feb.;36(12):0195-9131. Translation: For a 160-pound person, running 8 mph would burn over 800 calories per hour compared to about 300 calories walking at 3.5 mph.
Part of my walk tutorial is in the original YMCA building in central London – a cavernous gym with incongruous snatches of stained glass reminding exercisers of a higher religious purpose. Every time someone walks past, Hall waspishly critiques their walk (eg: “Look at the bend in his knees and his arms are swinging like hinges”). This becomes more and more enjoyable as her meaning unfolds.
Raise your hand if you’re stressed out. OK, OK, put both your hands back down. Most of us swim in a pool of stress every day and that takes a serious toll on our mental and physical health.  But science says one of the benefits of walking is it’s one of the fastest, most effective ways to calm down. Moving clears cortisol, the “stress hormone”, out of your system and also helps stop the never-ending stream of worries going through your mind, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology. Here are tricks for getting the most happiness out of your walk.
There are many reasons why people start running: Busting stress, boosting energy, or snagging that treadmill next to a longtime gym crush are just a few. What's more, running can keep your heart healthy, improve your mood, stave off sickness, and aid in weight loss.Greater weight loss from running than walking during a 6.2-yr prospective follow-up. Williams PT. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2013, Nov.;45(4):1530-0315. But depending on your personal goals, going full speed isn't the only route to good health.Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction. Williams PT, Thompson PD. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2013, Apr.;33(5):1524-4636.

The fountain of youth exists—but you’re going to have to walk to find it. And we mean that literally. People who walk regularly not only look younger than their age (as long as you’re remembering your sunscreen!) but they may also be younger on a cellular level, according to research published in PLOS One. The scientists found that cardiovascular exercise, like walking, can preserve or even lengthen your telomeres, the parts of our DNA that shorten as we age. Who’s worried about wrinkles now?
Plus, running may regulate appetite hormones better than walking. In another study, after running or walking, participants were invited to a buffet, where walkers consumed about 50 calories more than they had burned and runners ate almost 200 calories fewer than they'd burned.Influence of running and walking on hormonal regulators of appetite in women. Larson-Meyer DE, Palm S, Bansal A. Journal of obesity, 2012, Apr.;2012():2090-0716. Researchers think this may have to do with runners' increased levels of the hormone peptide YY, which may suppress appetite.
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In July 1996, research from the Cooper Institute showed that participating in moderate to high levels of physical activity reduced the risk of dying from any given cause. This held true regardless of other risk factors. In other words, even if an individual suffers from high blood pressure or obesity, the chances of dying are lessened by maintaining at least a moderate level of fitness. This is remarkably good news, especially for individuals who have hereditary risk factors such as a family history of heart disease.
A lot of people, thinking themselves on a “power walk”, brace themselves, particularly their abs. But you don’t really want to be braced, you want to be taut. Bracing your abs and glutes makes you feel as if you’re making an effort, but it silos your muscle groups. Tautness, on the other hand, lengthens and connects them, activating the connective tissue (the fascia) that holds the show together.
Running also has a slightly higher “afterburn” (or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect than walking—meaning, your body will continue to burn calories after you’re done exercising until your body returns to its normal resting state. Research published in the The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that the afterburn lasts five minutes longer for runners than it did for walkers.

Walking helps to improve your heart health. Irish scientists have reported that walking is the best exercise for sedentary individuals, especially adults, to reduce the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases (2).In another study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, scientists confirmed that men and women of 65 years of age or older, who walked for at least 4 hours every week, were at less risk of cardiovascular disease (3). So, make sure to walk for 4 hours or more a week to keep heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke at bay.
I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day, which makes it easier to push yourself a little farther to reach your 10,000-step goal.
A sedentary lifestyle has led to an exponential growth of one of the most common diseases – diabetes. Scientists recommend no less than 5,000 steps a day with more than 3,000 of those steps being a brisk walk – to help manage type 2 diabetes (8). Walking every day can help control the blood sugar levels, which, in turn, can help you prevent type 2 diabetes.
Vary your walking workout to keep it interesting and you will also burn more calories. Incorporate a couple of inclines into your walking route. If you exercise on a treadmill, set it at a slope for part of the time. Walking more extreme inclines makes your workout more like hiking, which burns twice the amount of calories than walking on a flat route.
Sidelined by sneezing, sniffling and itchy, watery eyes, thanks to all the pollen in the air? Your instinct may be to close all the windows and hide until winter, but your instinct might be wrong. According to a Thai study, researchers found that walking or running—even for just 15 minutes—can reduce sneezing, itching, congestion and runny nose by up to 70 percent. Learn the speed you should walk to breathe in less pollution.
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up, cool down and stretches into your routine. Start your walk at a slow warm up pace, stop and do a few warm up / flexibilty drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with the slower cool down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel great and assist in injury prevention.
Fenton believes, however, that an additional class of walkers exists between these two extremes. These are the individuals who seek not merely health benefits but also physical fitness. They dress like athletes, not like someone out for a stroll. They walk tall, eyes forward. They take quick steps. They push off on their toes. Whether or not they swing their hips, many bend their arms and look (somewhat) like racewalkers. They probably don’t compete, but walking to them is a way of life, a discipline to be pursued with some vigor–and enjoyment.
As with walking, jogging is an activity that is relatively simple to do without spending a lot of money. However, it is important to purchase a pair of good running shoes that fit comfortably and properly. Stick to loose fitting and lightweight clothes that allow your body to breathe and move easily. Jogging is a vigorous activity, so if you are new to jogging you may want to begin by walking for three or four minutes and then jogging for one. As you get stronger, you can begin to increase the lengths of the jogging intervals.

I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day, which makes it easier to push yourself a little farther to reach your 10,000-step goal.
I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day, which makes it easier to push yourself a little farther to reach your 10,000-step goal.
Add a simple four-minute stretch routine a few days a week after your walk to maintain your natural range of motion. Just stand up, even if you're at work fully dressed in work clothes. Put one leg back, bend the front knee, and lean forward to stretch the calf muscle. For thighs, grab your ankle from behind, keep your knees close together. Lean forward to stretch your lower back.
As you get started toward the recommended 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days per week, aim to exercise at a level that just lets you keep up a conversation during the activity. If you can get out three or four sentences in a row without gasping for air, it’s a sign that you’re maintaining an intensity that is truly aerobic, meaning aerobic metabolism is supplying the vast majority of your body’s energy, Jonesco says.
Running also has a slightly higher “afterburn” (or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect than walking—meaning, your body will continue to burn calories after you’re done exercising until your body returns to its normal resting state. Research published in the The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that the afterburn lasts five minutes longer for runners than it did for walkers.

Once you have become accustomed to a regular pattern of workouts (as opposed to merely walks), you can achieve a higher level of physical fitness not merely by increasing the distance of the workouts but also by varying the distance from day to day. “You don’t always need to walk the same course or the same distance,” Fenton says. “Perhaps once or twice a week, set aside time for slightly longer walks, or much longer ones on the weekends.” If your goal is losing weight, the more you walk the more calories you’ll burn. Walking, like running, burns approximately 100 calories for every mile covered.
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