AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Shoes are made for walking, and there’s no better time to put those rubber soles to the ground than on National Walking Day. Every year on the first Wednesday in April, celebrate by taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Make sure to grab a water bottle to stay hydrated, then join in the fun.
Major Health Benefits
Taking a jaunt around the block not only allows a breath of fresh air but brings added health benefits as well. A regular walking routine can help decrease the risk of many chronic diseases, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and increase energy.
“One of the best ways to jump-start a new routine and improve your overall health is by going for a walk,” said Erin Reznicek, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System family and consumer sciences specialist. “The immediate benefits to a single bout of exercise, such as a brisk walk, include improved mood, reduced anxiety symptoms and improved cognition for the task performed that day.”
All ages benefit from walking. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking improves circulation, strengthens muscles, supports joints and lowers Alzheimer’s risk, which is especially important to older adults.
Walking is also an easy way to get the recommended physical activity needed each day, which varies by age. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children ages six through 17 need 60 minutes of physical activity, and adults need at least 30 minutes every day.
How Many Steps Are Needed
The USDA recommends that people have a target of taking 10,000 steps each day. While that goal may not be feasible for beginners, don’t feel discouraged. Take time to build up to these recommendations by setting smaller, bite-sized goals.
“Try walking in 10-minute intervals a couple times each day to meet the 30-minute or 10,000-step goal,” Reznicek said. “Eventually, as confidence and physical function build, you may feel the ability to walk longer or try other forms of exercise.”
Making Time To Walk
Life is busy, and finding time for a walk can seem complicated—but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways people can incorporate extra steps into their day.
- Park further away from the entrance to a workplace, school or grocery store.
- Walk with friends in the neighborhood or take a walk while chatting on the phone.
- Suggest a walking meeting at work rather than sitting in an office.
- Take the stairs instead of riding in an elevator
- Get outside with the family or your furry friend for an after-dinner stroll.