The Northwest is blessed with a bounty of wonderful walking environments, from urban malls to peaceful parks and wilderness areas. Not only is walking easy and inexpensive, it's an effective low-impact activity that has significant physical and mental health benefits.
Walking Works Wonders for Your Health, Energy and Spirit
“Brisk walking engages all of your muscles, gets your heart pumping and sends oxygen through your whole body,” says Anna White, M.D., with Providence Medical Group in Sherwood, Ore.
“It strengthens your heart, decreases joint pain and releases endorphins – the antistress, feel-good hormones your body naturally produces.”
If you are just starting a walking routine, Dr. White recommends speaking with your physician first and starting slowly. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week to get your heart rate up, but not so intense that you can't hold a normal conversation.
Need Help Finding Ways to Incorporate Walking into Your Day?
- Leave the car behind and walk to do an errand, grab a newspaper, or pick up a healthy lunch.
- Include your family and plan special walking activities for children and grandkids.
- Bad weather? Check if your local mall opens early for walkers.
- Invite a friend for a walk, join a walking club, or take part in a community walk event.
- Need a challenge? Consider using a pedometer, a small device that counts your footsteps, to stay motivated and extend distance.
- Add gentle strength training for a complete, full-body workout. Strength training in addition to aerobic exercise can also increase balance, mobility and flexibility.
Changing sedentary ways and including more physical activity in your day can be tough, but Dr. White encourages her patients to keep moving. “The benefits of physical activity and walking are numerous, but only if you make it part of every day. It can take up to six months before a new habit becomes part of your daily routine, so be patient and keep walking.”