A walk is a proven way to treat a host of ailments, but not everyone should take the same path. Here's what the experts recommend:
High blood pressure: 25-35 minutes; moderate pace
How walking helps: It can lower blood pressure, according to a 2010 review of 27 trials on the topic. A 2016 report by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that walking reduces your risk for coronary artery disease.
Walking Rx: Shoot for at least 1.75 miles at 3 to 4.5 mph most days of the week to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, says Paul T. Williams, a life sciences researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.
Arthritis: 5-30 minutes; leisurely pace
How walking helps: It strengthens the muscles that support joints, helps you shed pounds and reduces joint stiffness. In a 2015 review of 54 studies, researchers concluded that walking, like other exercise, was as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief.
Walking Rx: Leigh F. Callahan, associate director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, recommends starting with five minutes of walking and building up to 30 total minutes per day — at once or in separate walks — for five days per week. If the pain is worse two hours after the walk than it was before the walk started, take a less intense walk the next time.
Osteoporosis: 30 minutes; leisurely pace
How walking helps: Walking helps preserve bone.
Walking Rx: Try to walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week. “Three 10-minute walks a day are as bone-strengthening as one 30-minute walk,” says Andrea J. Singer, M.D., of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Depression: 20-30 minutes; varied pace
How walking fast helps: It increases the production of serotonin, dopamine and other brain chemicals that lift your mood, says John B. Arden, author of The Brain Bible.
Walking Rx: Start with 10 minutes of strolling, then walk briskly to 75 percent of your maximum effort — a pace that makes talking difficult. Keep that up for two or three minutes, then resume a strolling pace. Repeat these intervals for 20 to 30 minutes.