It has been a really long time since I laced up my shoes and warmed my muscles for a good kickboxing class. Tired of jumping and kicking, I traded in my aerobics step in favor of something just as beneficial to my body and a lot less taxing on my joints—walking. While strength and cardio exercises of all types are beneficial, not everyone enjoys the same outlet, and studies show that walking has a significant benefit on the long-term health of not just younger women but middle age and older females as well.

The science behind walking

Study results from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who got moderate amounts of exercise during their middle-age years were likely to be healthier at age 70 and beyond. Fighting off illness and maintaining mobility are just a couple of the big benefits of getting moving.

Harvard researchers found that women who really pick up the pace and walk briskly a few times a week tripled their odds of “successful aging” and I don’t know about you, but aging successfully sounds pretty good to me.

Exercise is good for all aspects of your health including:

  • Prevention of cardiovascular disease (heart problems, blood clots, circulation and lung problems)
  • Reduces osteoporosis (brittle bone disease)
  • Obesity (drop those pounds!)
  • Diabetes and blood sugar imbalances
  • Cognitive or mental declines (like dementia or maybe even Alzheimer’s)

How to walk your way to better health

You may be shocked to know (that’s sarcasm) that 85% of Americans don’t have a vigorous workout routine. Wow. You’re probably one of them. But changing that statistic is as easy as taking a stroll—well, maybe not a stroll but a stride.  Walking is most beneficial when you really get moving and that’s about 22 steps every 10 seconds or so. Don’t think that’s too fast? Time it out and try to maintain it and you’ll see just how brisk it is.

Another good way to know if you are working within your heart’s most effective range is how well you can speak while working out. If you can carry on a full conversation, you had better pick up the pace. You will be working out most effectively if you can only manage about three word statements between breaths.

Before beginning any workout, it is always best to talk with your doctor. If you are coming in to see Dr. Hessel, ask her about your plan to start walking and get her okay before you begin. If you have special needs make sure to speak with your regular doctor, start slowly and walk your way to a healthier you.