We can walk anywhere — inside or outside. We can walk alone (be aware of safety), with friends or family, or walk the dog. We can walk on trails, neighborhood sidewalks, around our places of work, shopping malls, or even on a treadmill watching TV in our homes.
Walking at any speed can have a big impact on our health. Walking improves our circulation, raising our heart rate while lowering our blood pressure. Walking helps to strengthen our bones while slowing or stopping bone loss in osteoporosis and reducing risk of fractures especially in postmenopausal women.
Walking tones our muscles and builds muscle strength increasing our range of motion, relieves pressure on joints, and may help to decrease arthritis pain. Walking gives our joints access to oxygen and nutrients slowing their deterioration.
Walking is great for our minds and may slow or prevent memory decline and the more steps we take — the better we feel. Walking regularly elevates our mood releasing feel good endorphins. Finally, we sleep better and many find relief from insomnia when walking routinely. AND IT’S FREE!
Now that you are reminded of some of the benefits, please remember to start slow and build up your speed and distance gradually. Walk with your head up, shoulders down and relaxed. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after you walk. Begin your walk slowly and end with a cool down. As always, if you have a medical condition, please check with your health care provider prior to beginning a walking program.
Lastly, stay safe! Walk on a sidewalk when possible and face oncoming traffic. Wear light colored clothing or an item of clothing with reflector strips. Carry a cell phone for emergencies and always be aware of your surroundings.
Let’s get out there and walk among the Spring beauty God has given to each of us.
Jayne Dwyer-Reff, RN