Special Report

This Is Why Walking Is the Best Exercise

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1. Stronger bones

As we age, our bones become weaker, but walking regularly can strengthen them. As we walk, we increase stress on bones — and some of the cells building the bones, called osteoblasts, respond to stress. Low-impact walking can also help prevent bone density loss. You can build even better bone mass by race walking, doing some jogging when you walk, or by adding weights such as ankle weights.

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2. Increased muscle strength

Aging can reduce muscle strength. Walking can build muscle mass and tone muscles, particularly the muscles in your back and your legs.

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3. Less body fat

Interested in burning fat without going to the gym? Then try walking. While losing weight largely depends on your nutrition, exercise is also important. But the exercise doesn’t have to leave you exhausted. It can be as easy as walking.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry found that walking between 50 and 70 minutes just three days a week for 12 weeks resulted in an average body fat loss of 1.5% — or 1.1 inches around the waist — in obese women. Of course, picking up the pace is likely to result in even more calories burnt.

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4. Better heart health

You can literally walk your way to a stronger heart. Walking is an aerobic activity, and as such, it increases heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in greater efficiency of the heart. Analysis of several studies concluded that walking reduced the risk of developing heart disease by 31%. This was true for both men and women who walked as little as 5.5 miles a week at a slow pace of 2 mph.

The general recommendation for adults is to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Brisk-walking, which is a pace of about 2.5 mph, is an example of such activity.

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5. Better mood

Research has shown that more walking has a palliative effect on one’s mood. In a study on walking’s positive effects published in the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health in 2016, three different experiments demonstrated that even casual walking promoted positive effect. Walking “can override the effects of other emotionally relevant events such as boredom and dread,” according to the study. By walking outside, you also are exposed to sunlight, which can mitigate seasonal affective disorder.

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