Walk This Way: How Walking Benefits Health and Overall Fitness

April 23, 2016 | By Deb Lowther

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While it may be true that running marathons and killing it at boot camp will improve your endurance and cardio, you don’t have to go to extremes; simple walking benefits health and overall fitness level too.

Some may enjoy the challenge of intense cardio like running, kick boxing, cross fit, muscle pump or training for triathlons, but adding walking to your workout is a great way to get your heart pumping, tone muscles and enjoy the many benefits of exercise without over doing it. Walking benefits your health in many ways and, if done consistently, improves your fitness level too.

How Walking Benefits Your Health & Overall Fitness

It looks easy, as if hardly any energy is expended at all but a brisk walk uses many muscles in the body, improves your cardiovascular health, reduces risk of many diseases, tones and releases feel good energy. Increase your speed, your distance or change up the terrain to include hills or stairs and you add a whole new level to your walking workout.

A brisk 30 minute walk offers so many benefits:

Reduce Risk
Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure.

Improve Mood
Exercise, including walking, releases feel-good endorphins that improve your mood while also reducing stress and anxiety.

Tone Muscles
Walking gives your glutes a workout and tones legs including hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. With proper posture and added Nordic walking poles you can get an upper body workout too that tones your arms, waist and abs. As you age, it is more important than ever to continue to use all your muscle groups to avoid injury and prevent losing lean muscle.

Boost Energy
Fresh air and increasing your heart rates give you a boost in circulation, increases oxygen supply, and added bonus of vitamin D if you are walking outside.

Low Impact
Get all the benefits of a cardio workout without the added pressure on joints and legs. Walking is low impact on joints but that doesn’t mean it has to be low on intensity. You can ramp up the intensity by increasing speed, adding hills, Nordic walking poles or even climbing a few stairs.

Lose or Maintain Weight
Combine healthy eating with a walking program and you will feel the results. A 20 minute 2km (1.2mi) walk can burn over 100 calories. Increase the speed or intensity with hills and you will not only increase the amount of calories burned, but also the amount of muscle tone achieved. The use of nordic walking poles has proven to help you burn up to 46% more calories vs walking without them. Don’t underestimate the power of a power walk!

Walk This Way
The best part of walking aside from its health benefits is that it can be done anywhere, at any age and it is free. You can walk on the beach, or on the boardwalk, in the trails, through the snow, under a waterfall, or over a hill. You can walk with your dog, with your neighbour, your friends, your family or on your own.  You can walk to the park, walk up stairs, walk to the store, around a track, on a treadmill or in the mall.

The possibilities are endless and the benefits priceless. Add walking to your workout and then grab a buddy and share the benefits of walking with others. You might enjoy this 10-Week Nordic Walking Program created by Catherine Cameron.

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Deb Lowther

Deb Lowther

Deb Lowther is the proud mom of three girls... and when not running after the kids, can be found trail running. She contributes family health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy & staying active. Deb shares inspiring tips on her website, Raising Healthy Kids, and manages the website and social media for her family's business, Boomer Nutrition. (www.myboomernutrition.com).
Going uphill

Keep your poles more upright and in front of you. Lean forward slightly, and use the poles to help push you up the hill. If necessary, bend your elbows, but remember to transition back to the straight arm technique at the top of the hill
Barb Gormley, Director of Education

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