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Life in Motion

Walk it Off: Does Walking Count as Exercise?

Health & Prevention, Sports & Exercise

There are many different views on what counts as exercise. Running, lifting weights and biking are all popular forms of working out, but what about walking? We asked Frederick Basilico, MD, Physician in Chief for Medicine and Chief of Cardiology at NEBH: does walking count as exercise?

Getting enough physical activity doesn’t have to include time at the gym or expensive equipment. A brisk walk can improve heart, bone and mental health. Walking will improve your circulation, increase oxygen intake, lower blood pressure, and make your heart stronger, allowing it to pump more blood.

Walking helps your bones to stay strong and can slow the development of arthritis. It can also help you lose weight, which will lessen the stress on your joints and improve arthritis symptoms. It can also play a role in mental health, and has been shown to reduce stress, increase energy levels and help you sleep better.

Now that you know all the benefits of a walking program, what is the best way to get started? Although any amount of exercise will help, ideally, you will want to walk for at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. While you walk, keep in mind:

  • Make sure to swing your arms, which can help increase walking speed

  • Keep your head up and look forward

  • Try to keep your back straight, not arched forward or backward

  • After your walk, don’t forget to do some gentle stretching exercises

If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

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