Physical activity doesn't need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.

For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.

Research out of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System says those who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45 percent less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.

The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. Impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area. If you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh recently revealed that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight even if they didn't change any other lifestyle habits.

Health experts recommend that we should walk 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) to stay healthy. However, you probably need to tot up at least 16,000 steps a day to lose weight. Adding hills to your route will speed up calorie burning.

Walking can help to prevent many diseases and illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, according to the Better Health Channel. It can also help boost healthy cholesterol and ease back pain. Walking daily can also strengthen your bones, which is an important benefit, given that having weak and deteriorating bones can lead to serious conditions such as osteoporosis.

Sources: www.mayoclinic.org, www.arthritis.org, www.active.com, www.livestrong.com

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