While walking may not be a high-intensity workout, it certainly comes with many health benefits. Not only is walking great for heart health, boosting your mood, maintaining healthy weight, and improving circulation, but also for keeping your muscles and joints strong and healthy. When you have healthy and strong muscles and joints, you’re less susceptible to injury and reduce your risk of osteoporosis or other bone-density related conditions. If you’re looking for a simple, affordable way to get more movement in your life, start a walking program.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends incorporating at least 30 minutes of walking each day for five days a week to see the benefits of walking on the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and joints). Learn about the benefits of walking for bone health and ways to get started below.
Benefits of Walking for Bone Health:
- Easy and gentle on joints
- Builds and strengthens muscles
- Helps maintain bone mass
- Slows the development of arthritis
- Reduces risk of osteoporosis
- Increases joint flexibility and range of motion
- Regular walking may help prevent a fall
- Aids in joint fluid circulation, which provides essential oxygen and nutrients
- Reduces risk of hip fracture
- Helps you stay mobile later in life
- Lowers the likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries
- Increases spinal stability
- Improves posture
- May reduce low back pain
Another great part about incorporating walking into your routine is that you aren’t limited to one specific location, like a gym. While you can always use a treadmill to get in your daily dose of walking, you can also take advantage of trails, parks, neighborhood sidewalks, tracks, shopping centers, etc.
Find a shoe that provides adequate arch support, comfortable space for your toes, and is flexible. Check out our tips on finding the proper fit here. Consider using assistive devices such as walking poles or sticks.
Give yourself about the first five minutes to walk at a casual pace- this will serve as your warm-up. You can then increase your pace for around fifteen minutes, being mindful of your posture and stride (you should not have to strain). Be sure to keep your toes pointed forward and distribute your weight evenly. For a cool-down, gradually decrease your speed and walk at a casual pace for five minutes. Like with any exercise, you should stretch before and after. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery recommends a gradual approach to beginning a walking program. For the first two weeks, continue the 25-minute regimen above, and increase your walk duration by five minutes every two weeks afterward.
And don’t forget- hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drinking plenty of water when exercising will help you avoid dehydration and fatigue. It also happens to help keep your joints lubricated.
Before beginning a new exercise routine, we recommend speaking with your physician and your current health and any modifications you may need to take.
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