How to Get More from Walking

With extreme exercise trends like CrossFit and ultra-running so often in the media, it’s easy to overlook the amazing benefits of the humble activity of walking. But study after study demonstrates that simply putting one foot in front of the other offers amazing health benefits.

Twenty-five minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven extra years to your life.

Twenty-five minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven extra years to your life, according to research conducted in Germany at Saarland University. Researchers found that when subjects walked for 25 minutes a day their blood had higher levels of the enzyme that helps repair DNA than before they started walking. The research suggests that people who exercise regularly may be able to retard the process of aging, says the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Sanjay Sharma.

“As a form of exercise, walking benefits the body by engaging large muscles, which helps burn calories and improves cardiovascular endurance,” says Steven McDaniels, director of fitness and athletics at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. He suggests brisk walking at about 3 mph (arms moving) but also emphasizes that no form or speed of walking should be discouraged.

Consider these tips to get more out your walking practice:

  • Listen to music or a podcast while walking to make the experience more entertaining.
  • Get an electronic pedometer to motivate you (research shows people walk about 15 percent more when they use one).
  • Walk to get your morning tea or coffee if a café is close enough (this is a great way to get quality time in with a partner).
  • Try a walking meeting at work instead of the usual sitting variety.
  • Arrange to walk at lunch with a co-worker.
  • Join a walking or hiking group. Local nature centers and recreational centers often offer these.
  • Have a walking goal—either a destination, number of steps or amount of time.

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