Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Get Results with Fitness Walking

Easy-To-Do Exercise Brings a Bushel of Benefits

Why Fitness Walk? continued...

As an active member of volkssporting groups, she and her husband have traveled by foot in all 50 states, and are now working on traversing through all the state capitals. They have met many friends through treks and have seen people begin lifelong relationships.

Fitness walking "gives people purpose to get out and do something," says Cottrill. "It improves their health, it improves their blood pressure, they can lose weight, and it just keeps them flexible."

Cottrill's observations correspond well with the scientific research on physical activity. According to the AHA, vigorous activities that include brisk walking and moderate activities that include walking for pleasure can help reduce the following risk factors for heart disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity and overweight
  • High levels of triglycerides
  • Low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol)

Additionally, Richard Stein, MD, AHA spokesman, says fitness walking is easy to do and can achieve the same cardiovascular benefits as many forms of physical activity.

"The heart is really a very nice organ," he says. "It really doesn't know whether you're walking barefoot on the beach or you're in $4,000 Nike gear in a million-dollar treadmill."

Good forms of exercise supposedly include activities that burn fat, use large muscle groups, or happen over long distances, particularly if there is no resistance involved.

For older people afflicted with arthritis, Hoffmann says fitness walking can actually ease pain instead of cause it. "There is a huge body of research that shows that the symptoms of arthritis are usually relieved by walking, that if people will get up and get moving, they will find that their joints will get better and they will be less stiff and less sore."

At the other end of the spectrum, walking can also help meet children's health needs, says Charles Corbin, MD, author of the NASPE's physical activity guidelines. "Kids need to expend enough calories during the day to maintain desirable weight," he says. "Plus, they need to expend energy consistent with building bones and muscles for fitness and normal growth and development."

The Basics of Fitness Walking

Most people may think they've mastered this skill at toddler age, but certain steps apparently need to be taken in order to maximize the health benefits of going by foot:

Timetable: The Surgeon General recommends moderate amounts of activities such as a brisk walk of at least 30 minutes a day every day for overall health. The NASPE proposes that kids get more -- from 60 minutes up to several hours of physical activity (which includes walking) a day -- on most, if not all days of the week. People looking to lose weight are encouraged by the AARP to hit the pavement at least an hour a day for most days. For heart, lung, and circulation health, the AHA suggests 30 minutes of vigorous activity (including walking) a day, three to four times a week. Many of these guidelines allow time requirements to be non-continuous, with bouts of physical activity sprinkled throughout the day.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article