One Step at a Time: The Benefits of Walking

As the weather outside starts to warm up, the estimated 65 million Americans that regularly jog for exercise are gearing up for the running season. But what about those who aren't ready for the physical toll running can take on their body? Or the people who have no desire to run at all?

Benefits of Walking

Try walking instead. Walking is an easy alternative to running that puts less stress on the joints of the body and is less strenuous on the cardiovascular system, but also comes with several health benefits. As little as 30 minutes of continuous walking, 3 times a week, has been shown to make permanent changes to a person's maximum oxygen intake, which helps people's ability to spend longer amounts of time exercising, as well as show positive changes in blood pressure, diabetes, risk of heart disease and weight, improve your balance and coordination, and even enhance your mood.

"Magic Number" of Steps

Walking as part of your daily life can also help to reduce pain associated with common injuries, such as knee osteoarthritis. While walking during your daily activities, think of 10,000 steps per day as the "magic number" to hit to reduce pain, decrease disability associated with physical impairments, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you're thinking about starting to walk as a way of regular exercise, or just want to walk more during your daily life to improve your overall health, then try starting with:

  • Taking the stairs

  • Find a walking buddy

  • Park further away in a parking lot

If you generally don’t walk at all during the day, start with 3000 steps, which is about the length of a mile. If you feel extremely sore or are having trouble with 3000 steps, start at 2000 or 1000 (or less) for a few weeks to work up your strength and endurance.

What if you aren't ready to walk for 30 minutes continuously? Then try for 10 minutes one day, or 20, and work your way up. 

Can a Physical Therapist Help Me With Pain From Walking?

If you notice pain during or after a walk, request an appointment to speak with a physical therapist about your concerns. A PT can review your past medical history and current musculoskeletal health to make sure your body is up to the task and let you know where you should start from. They can also perform certain tests and measurements to make sure you're ready to walk the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

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