It's a fact of life. With age, our bones lose density and our muscles start to weaken. But you don't have to give in to the effects of aging. Walking is a proven method for boosting strength. Walking, especially at a brisk pace, can also help control, and in some cases reverse, the effects of aging on bones and muscles.
Count the Benefits
Brisk walking gets your heart pumping and sends oxygen through your whole body. It strengthens your heart and the muscle groups responsible for movement.
Brisk walking also burns fat. In place of stored fat, the body develops muscle. So a walking program rewards you with a leaner body, along with a higher metabolism. Walking also aids in production of the human growth hormone, which maintains the size and strength of your muscles.
Walking is good for your bones and joints, too. It's low impact, so even a rapid pace rarely causes strain or injury to knees, ankles, back, or hips. Instead, it uses the strength of your bones and joints to stimulate development. As you walk, your legs and feet work against the earth's gravity, which acts as a natural weight your bones and muscles must counteract. The body responds to the stress of its own weight by building bone cells and soft tissue.
Take to the Pavement
Aim to engage in brisk walking for at least 30 minutes, 5 or more days a week. It's enough to yield health perks, yet not so much as to tax your bones, muscles, or joints. It's best to create a steady walking routine. So find time to fit walking into your day. It's easy to do:
- If you're an early bird, walk at sunrise. You'll enjoy the first bird songs, the fresh morning air. And you'll have a sense of accomplishment to carry you through the day.
- Your body's energy may wane at midday. A noon time walk is a great way to combat that energy lull and give your afternoon a spark.
- An early evening walk is a good time to catch up with your family or neighbors. Also, it caps off your day in a healthy way.
Walk This Way
Walking gives you control over your whole exercise program. You have the final say in how fast or slow you go. No matter how you choose to walk, you should know proper walking technique to get the most out of it. Practice these walking tips:
- Follow through from heel to toe, pushing off the ball of your foot as you take each new step
- Keep your ankles straight, and try to avoid rotating your foot in or out
- Make your strides long and quick, with your knees bent for shock absorption
- Wear shoes that fit well and are padded for cushion and support
- Warm up before and stretch after your walks to prevent injury or cramps