Learn how to spot and avoid common scams! Visit the AARP Fraud Resource Center.
AARP, June 7, 2007
If a daily fitness walk could be put in a pill, it would be one of the most popular prescriptions in the world. It has so many health benefits. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases — from heart attack and stroke to hip fracture and glaucoma. These may sound like claims on a bottle of snake oil, but they're backed by major research. Walking requires no prescription, the risk of side effects is very low, and the benefits are numerous:
Managing your weight. Combined with healthy eating, physical activity is key to any plan for long-lasting weight control. Keeping your weight within healthy limits can lower your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
Controlling your blood pressure. Physical activity strengthens the heart so it can pump more blood with less effort and with less pressure on the arteries. Staying fit is just as effective as some medications in keeping down blood pressure levels.
Decreasing your risk of heart attack. Exercise such as brisk walking for three hours a week — or just half an hour a day — is associated with a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of heart disease in women. (Based on the 20-year Nurses' Health Study of 72,000 female nurses.)
Boosting "good" cholesterol – the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Physical activity helps reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) in the blood, which can cause plaque buildup along the artery walls — a major cause of heart attacks.
Lowering your risk of stroke. Regular, moderate exercise equivalent to brisk walking for an hour a day, five days a week, can cut the risk of stroke in half, according to a Harvard study of more than 11,000 men.
Reducing your risk of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. The Nurses' Health Study also links regular activity to risk reductions for both these diseases. In another study, people at high risk of diabetes cut their risk in half by combining consistent exercise like walking with lower fat intake and a 5 to 7 percent weight loss.
Avoiding your need for gallstone surgery. Regular walking or other physical activity lowers the risk of needing gallstone surgery by 20 to 31 percent, found a Harvard study of more than 60,000 women ages 40 to 65.
Protecting against hip fracture. Consistent activity diminishes the risk of hip fracture, concludes a study of more than 30,000 men and women ages 20 to 93.
The list goes on and on. Many other studies indicate a daily brisk walk also can help:
Keep it Steady
A steady routine is the most important factor in getting the most out of your exercise program. Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week is recommended.
Use these tips to keep you on track:
The Best Medicine
Any amount of walking is good, but for the best health results, set a brisk pace and walk for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. Be sure to check with your doctor on the level of exercise that's best for you.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Enter address, city, state, or ZIP code.
Driver Safety (0)
Tax Aide (0)
Entertainment & Dining (0)
Healthcare & Insurance (0)
Financial Services & Insurance (0)
Member Local Offers (0)
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
Members can take a free confidential hearing test by phone.
Members get Staying Sharp for FREE – brain-boosting recipes, activities, games and more.
Members save 15% all day, every day at participating locations.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at