Walking for fitness: How to improve your health - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Walking for fitness: How to improve your health

Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. It's one of your body's most natural forms of exercise. It's safe, simple, doesn't require practice, and the health benefits are many.

Walking for fitness can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. For example, you can:

- Reduce your risk of a heart attack. Walking keeps your heart healthy by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). A regular walking program also reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, a factor that also contributes to heart disease.

- Manage your blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, walking may reduce it.

- Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're a woman, overweight and at a high risk of diabetes, walking can improve your body's ability to process sugar (glucose tolerance).

- Manage your diabetes. If you already have type 2 diabetes, taking part in a regular walking program can improve your body's ability to process sugar, lower your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease and help you live longer.

- Manage your weight. Walking burns calories, which can help you manage your weight. For example, middle-aged women who walk more than 10,000 steps a day have lower levels of body fat than do women who are less active.

- Manage stress and boost your spirits. Going for a brisk walk is a great way to reduce stress. Regular walking also can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

- Stay strong and active. As you get older, walking for physical fitness can prevent falls, help you stay mobile and maintain your independence.

Seniors should always talk to their doctor before starting a walking program. With his or her approval, even a little walking in your life will enhance overall health, strength and energy.

Excerpted from MayoClinic. Com. For complete article, click on:
www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612

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