Walking Does Your Body Good
According to many health care organizations including the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition , experts say that 10,000 steps a day does a body good. Walking 10,000 steps works out to about five miles. That's a lot of hiking, strolling and stepping out for anyone, which raises the question: Do you have to take that many steps every day to get all the benefits of walking?
Most health and fitness experts say no. The key is to keep increasing the amount of walking you do overall and keep working to increase the number of steps you walk daily. You'll still gain the many mental and physical benefits. At the same time, if you hit the 10,000-steps-a-day mark, it's a good conversation topic.
One thing you must do before starting a tough daily walking routine is to make sure you have a good, solid pair of shoes. Nothing will drive you back to the couch and undermine your plan faster than sore feet.
You may feel some of the advantages of taking a good walk right away. A good walk offers you a change of scenery, a chance to think, reduced stress and some time alone or with other walking fans. Experts believe other benefits for the brain are less obvious but equally important over time.
Walking and physical fitness in general may contribute to:
- Better weight control.
- Stronger back muscles and bones.
- A slimmer waist.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Improved sleep.
Walking is easy. It can be done almost anywhere, it requires no equipment (other than those all-important, top-quality shoes) and it doesn't cost a thing.
Consider investing in a pedometer to help motivate you to stay on track and keep you moving. Start by setting a baseline. To do this, count all your steps over three days and divide the total by three. Then, set your person short- and long-term goals. A short-term goal may be to add a certain number of steps to your baseline a day.
A long-term goal might be to reach a target number of daily steps, say 3,000, to walk faster or strive to meet that magical 10,000-step milestone. Remember to check with your doctor if you plan to start a new exercise regimen.