Sweating it out at the gym isn’t the only way to get the health benefits of exercise. Walking is a great way to improve your fitness level—and you can do it almost anywhere, anytime, without expensive equipment.
You might not think that your ten-minute walk to the subway is an important part of your healthy lifestyle, but you should! Walking, especially at a fast pace, is great exercise that can improve your health in many ways.
And you don’t need much walking to get the health benefits . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking at a fast pace, each week. This works out to 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or to walking about 30 blocks on most days of the week.
1. Walking is good for your heart. Getting regular exercise like walking can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which decreases your chances of getting heart disease. Walking quickly can raise your heart rate and make your heart stronger.
2. Walking helps with diabetes. Walking lowers your blood sugar, which can help prevent diabetes and prediabetes. If you already have diabetes or prediabetes, walking can help keep your blood sugar at healthy levels.
3. Walking can help you stay at a healthy weight. Along with eating a good diet, walking can help you maintain a healthy weight. Walking can help you lose weight, too. The more you walk, the quicker you’ll drop the extra pounds.
4. Walking fights depression. Walking has been shown to improve mood and to lower pain. Studies have found that when people with depression start walking more every day, they start feeling better overall.
5. Walking eases stress and anxiety. Studies show that walking, and other forms of exercise, can improve mood and stop feelings of anxiety and stress.
6. Walking keeps your bones strong. Walking, along with other types of exercises, can help keep your bones strong. Walking can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease which makes your bones weak. This is especially important as you get older, because having strong bones can stop you from falling and getting hurt.
7. Walking helps you sleep better. Research has shown that people who have trouble sleeping (insomnia) were able to fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer after they started walking every day. You can also get some tips for a better night’s rest here.
8. Walking keeps your mind sharp. As well as boosting your mood, walking can also help keep your brain sharp. Walking can improve memory and lower the chances of you becoming forgetful and having memory issues as you age.
New York City is home to many beautiful parks with great walking trails. Check out these local gems in each borough:
Inwood Hill Park
Salt marsh, caves, rocks, trees, and the Hudson River—these are the sights of historic Inwood Hill Park, at the northern edge of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway in Washington Heights, near the Bronx.
Prospect Park’s beautiful man-made wetlands make it a favorite local destination. As well as nice places to walk and enjoy the view, the park also has sports fields, ice skating, a bird center, and a zoo.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Flushing Meadows Corona Park offers nearly 900 acres of open space, including a walking path around Flushing Bay. The park also boasts a zoo, science and history museums, and sports fields.
Van Cortlandt Park
With more than a thousand acres, Van Cortlandt Park is the third-largest park in New York City. Walking paths, sports fields, and a freshwater lake make it a beautiful and charming place to spend a day.
This 930-acre park in Nassau County features miles of walking paths as well as a two-mile track with 20 fitness stations. Athletic fields, tennis courts, ice skating, and fitness classes are also offered.
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Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
“How much physical activity do adults need?” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February 29, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/
“Measuring Physical Activity Intensity,” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February 29, 2016.
“Regular Walking Can Help Ease Depression,” Scientific American. January 30, 2015. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/regular-walking-can-help-ease-depression/
“Build Stronger Bones With Exercise,” WebMD. Accessed February 29, 2016.
“Exercise for Stress and Anxiety,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed February 29, 2016.