You may have noticed more and more people strolling around your neighborhood, or maybe even doing laps around the halls at work. This isn’t just another health fad; there is real research suggesting many crucial benefits to incorporating a daily walk into your life. The Raleigh and Cary area has many places to accomplish this, from the greenways, to Lake Crabtree, to Umstead Park, to Lake Johnson.

The average person in our sedentary Western world only gets about 3,000-4,000 steps in a day. A new goal many with pedometers aim for is a full 10,000 a day. This is a great improvement and will achieve the benefits below. If you do not have a pedometer, just aim for a brisk walk of 20 or 30 minutes. The trick is to not see this as just another chore in the daily grind but as a break from the daily grind. Walking can then become a time you look forward to while achieving great benefits to your health.

Cardiovascular improvement

Many of us sit for long periods a day, often over 10 hours. This can increase one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Standing up multiple times a day and walking a short distance can help a lot. Even more important is a daily 30 minute walk. The Stroke Association says this can improve your blood pressure so much that the risk of stroke reduces 27 percent. A simple walk gets the blood flowing enough to reverse much of the damage you may be doing the rest of the day sitting in a dark room staring at a screen.

Mental health

Speaking of sitting in a dark staring at a screen, it’s not good for your mental health either. Studies have shown a similar effect in taking a daily walk as is achieved by antidepressants to treat mild cases of depression. Dementia, which can take a big toll on older populations, also sees a dramatic 40 percent decline for daily walkers. Sleep, stress, anxiety and many other mental health markers also see improvement.

Joints and connective tissue

The problem with many exercise routines is they stress the joints, tendons, and ligaments because of their hard impact. Weight lifting and running are both notorious for stressing the body out. A workout that leaves you injured is one that isn’t helping you stay healthy and active since you may have to stop for long periods. Walking, along with swimming, is a great way to get active and burn calories without putting your body in compromising positions.

Weight loss

While it’d be nice if most people exercised in order to increase their overall health, that’s not usually the case. Most will begin to exercise because they don’t like the way they look in the mirror. Thankfully, taking a daily walk is a really easy way to see the pounds fall off, as well. It is a better form of exercise for improving your body fat percentage overall since more of the calories you burn will be from fat than muscle.

Longevity

A study by Saarland University in Germany found that a 25 minute daily walk extended one’s life by up to seven years. Walking only 11 minutes a day added at least two years. Think of all the time with one’s family that could be spent with seven more years. That’s seven more Christmases, seven more summers, seven years more of your children and grandchildren’s lives you’ll get to witness. There really is no dollar amount one can put on that.

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Cary, NC 27519

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