Healthy Living

Walk your way to better health

To really get in shape, you need to run 5Ks (if not marathons), cycle until your legs blur like a Roadrunner cartoon or spend hours in the gym. No pain, no gain, right?

Wrong.

Turns out, walking provides many of the same health benefits as running.

The Mayo Clinic says walking can help you manage your weight and control or prevent a host of health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

It’s not just your waistline that will benefit: Walking 30 minutes a day can boost your mood, improve your mental outlook and spur greater creativity — not to mention giving you great-looking gams.

True, running takes more energy — and that means it burns more calories. And some research shows running is also better at suppressing your appetite, so you may eat less. But running also puts more stress on the body and increases the risk of injuries such as runner’s knee and shin splints.

However, neither running nor walking do you any good unless you actually do it, points out Laurie Mitchell, assistant vice president for Global Wellbeing and Health at Unum. “The key is choosing a type of exercise you enjoy and will do on a regular basis,” she says. “Walking is a great choice for many people because you can do it almost anywhere and any time, and it requires no gear other than a comfortable pair of shoes.”

A few steps here and there add up

Some days you just don’t have even a half-hour to spare. No problem: Even a little walking throughout the day adds up. A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found even brief bursts of moderate to vigorous activity can be beneficial.

Here are some easy ways to add a few more steps to your day:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park farther from the door at work and when out doing errands.
  • Get off the bus or train a stop before or after where you live and walk home.
  • Walk while you talk, whether it’s a business meeting or a casual catch-up with a friend.
  • Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of calling or emailing.
  • Walk the dog, or volunteer to walk your neighbor’s pup.
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