Searching the internet for information about fitness will turn up millions of results. One type of physical activity that appears as being the safest and most beneficial is walking. Walking can reduce the risk of so many diseases that it sounds like the miracle claims made by many “alternative medicine” healers, however, these claims are backed by major research.
A daily walk is a great way to manage your weight, and managing your weight is the first step to better health. Like all physical activity walking strengthens the heart so it can pump more blood with less effort and with less pressure on the arteries. This means that blood pressure is reduced, and walking has been associated with a 30% to 40% lower risk of heart disease in women.
High cholesterol is one of the silent killers in America today, and walking can help reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) in the blood, which can cause plaque buildup along the artery walls. One effect of high blood pressure and cholesterol that many are unaware of, is the increased risk of stroke. Walking can cut the risk of stroke in half, according to a Harvard study of more than 11,000 men.
Some studies have even shown that people at high risk of diabetes cut their risk in half by combining consistent exercise like walking with lower fat intake and a 5% to 7% weight loss.
Other studies show that regular physical activity can prevent depression, colon cancer, constipation, osteoporosis, and impotence. Walking can lengthen lifespan, lower stress levels, relieve arthritis and back pain, strengthen muscles, bones, and joints. Keeping fit can also improve sleep and elevate general mood and sense of well-being. One fact that is important to me is that consistent activity diminishes the risk of hip fracture according to a study of more than 30,000 men and women ages 20 to 93.