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Walking — An exercise for all ages

Walking is easily the most popular form of exercise. Approximately half of the 165 million American adults claim they exercise regularly, and the number who walk for exercise is increasing every year.

Walking has gained new respect as a means of improving physical fitness. Studies show that when done briskly on a regular schedule it can lower the resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure and increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs. It also helps burn excess calories.

In addition to the qualities it has in common with other physical activities, walking has several unique advantages. Some of these are:

  • Almost everyone can do it. You don't have to take lessons to learn how to walk. Probably all you need to do to become a serious walker is step up your pace and distance and walk more often.
  • You can do it almost anywhere. All you have to do to find a place to walk is step outside your door. Almost any sidewalk, street, road, trail, park, field or shopping mall will do. The variety of settings available is one of the things that make walking such a practical and pleasurable activity.
  • You can do it almost anytime. You don’t have to find a partner or get a team together to walk, so you can set your own schedule. Walking is not a seasonal activity and you can do it in extreme temperatures that would rule out other activities.
  • It doesn't cost anything. You don’t have to pay fees or join a private club to become a walker. The only equipment required is a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes.

When is the best time to walk? Many people find that if they commit to early morning walks, fewer distractions sidetrack them from their routine.

But if you hate the idea of getting up earlier in the morning to exercise and feel most energetic later in the day — that should be your walking time. Or maybe you and a friend would rather use part of your lunch hour to take a walk. Consider your schedule and your habits and choose the time that will work best for you.

A brisk walk before you start your day, during your lunch break or in the evening can help you reach your exercise goals. Of course before you start any exercise program, you should check with your doctor. Then find a buddy and a couple of places in your community to start your walking program and let your feet help you begin your journey to fitness and vitality.

GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.