Dr. Nancy: What walking does for you

Nancy  Rudner

Share »

Can you enjoy the gift of walking? It is easy: One foot in front of the other. Even if you don’t move around much or you already go great distances, walking can be tailored to you, growing with you as you get walking muscles. And it does wonders for you, in many ways. Here are a few reasons to walk, whether it’s for 10 minutes a day or 20 hours a week.

Walking decreases your risk of heart disease, increases your good cholesterol, and lowers your risks for cancer and diabetes. Walking can also bring down your blood pressure. Walking can curb your appetite and help get your weight down or stay at a good weight.

Walking can clear your mind. Like cobwebs, foggy thoughts can clutter your mind and build anxiety. Depression can linger. But walking stimulates problem solving and lifts your mood.

Walking with friends or family can build stronger relationships. Walkers share all sorts of thoughts and challenges and solve them with the footsteps.

The peacefulness of walking outdoors gives you a chance to hear the birds, feel the breeze and smell the flowers. Jasmine is especially nice at twilight.

Early morning walking gives you the beautiful sunrise. Evening walking, the sunset. And nighttime walking shows you the moon, the stars, and your neighbors who don’t close the curtains.

Walking strengthens your heart, rebuilding heart muscle and increasing blood flow.

Walking builds strong bones. As you walk, your bones are stimulated to grow stronger.

A good walk can give you a good night’s sleep if you finish your walk at least two hours before you plan to go to sleep. Walking later is stimulating enough to keep you awake.

The breathing you do when you walk helps your lungs, increasing air exchange and your lung capacity.

Sunshine on your walks gives you a good dose of vitamin D, which helps build bones, prevents infections, and protects your body.

Good footwear helps you walk further. Enjoy the bounce of good cushioning. It helps to get fitted with the right walking shoes for you – footwear is not the place to cut expenses.

For those who need some connection with the Internet before walking, The American Heart Association offers an online tracker and a map of local walk routes: startwalkingnow.org Of course, you can get an app for that.

The American Heart Association recommends walking briskly 30 minutes a day. If you haven’t been walking much before now, start slow. You have so much to gain. And you are so worth it.