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health benefits of walking

6 Health Benefits of Walking

by George Zakharia, DPTLeave a Comment

We’ve heard it time and time again, “you need to exercise,” but we may not know where to start. We know that exercise is supposed to be good for us, but what can we do and how can we start? The simple solution to exercise is to just…walk. It’s that simple! Walking offers significant benefits to your overall health if you stay consistent with it and it’s an activity most everyone can do! Read on as we discuss six specific benefits of walking backed by research!

1. Weight Loss

One study found that sedentary individuals who took 3,000 more steps per day over the course of a 12 week period lost over 3 pounds since starting the study. They also had a significant reduction in their waist circumference, or a slimmer waist and resting heart rate (which means their heart doesn’t have to work as hard throughout the day).1

2. Improves Heart Health

Walking at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by 19%.2 This means that your risk of a heart attack decreases significantly, just by walking!

3. Decreases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Brisk walking at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%.3 Also found was walking for 15 minutes after breakfast, lunch, and dinner improved 24 hour blood sugar control in the elderly population at risk for diabetes.4 This means we can control of our blood sugar!

4. Protects Joints from Osteoarthritis & May Improve Arthritis Pain

Walking lubricates the joints for the hips and knees while strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints. Walking 5 to 6 miles a week may help prevent arthritis or decrease pain in those with arthritis.5

5. Decreases Your Chance of Getting Sick and Helps You Recover from Illness

Adults who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day had 43% fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections overall. Their symptoms were also lessened if they did get sick.6

6. Boosts Your Mood

Walking can help reduce anxiety, depression and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.7 You will be shocked how much you will come to love walking and you’ll be hooked in no time!

How to Start

  • Invest in a pedometer or fitness watch to track the amount of steps you’re taking each day. You can purchase them at your local department store or download a free application on your phone.
  • Start slow, but aim to get at least 7,500 steps/day
  • Walk briskly for at least 30 minutes/day for at least 5 days a week. If you find yourself too busy to carve out 30 minutes at once, no problem! Simply split your walks into several bouts. One idea is to take 10 minute walks 3x/day.
  • Get up and move every 20 minutes if possible. A body in motion stays in motion! While watching TV for example, get up during commercials and walk down the hall and back.
  • Opt to park farther away when going shopping to increase your step count. This will help you become more active which will hopefully carry over into all your daily activities.
  • When using the bathroom, opt to walk to the farthest bathroom from your location in the house.

Pain or injury preventing you from walking? An Athletico clinic near you can help! Start by scheduling a free assessment and start physical therapy right away. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform. Physical therapists are movement experts and can help you improve pain and function to get you on your way to reap the health benefits of walking!

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Chan CB, Ryan DA, Tudor-Locke C. Health benefits of a pedometer-based physical activity intervention in sedentary workers. Prev Med. 2004;39(6):1215-1222. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.04.053
2. Zheng H, Orsini N, Amin J, Wolk A, Nguyen VT, Ehrlich F. Quantifying the dose-response of walking in reducing coronary heart disease risk: meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol. 2009;24(4):181-192. doi:10.1007/s10654-009-9328-9
3. Jeon C. Y., Lokken R. P., Hu F. B., Van Dam R. M. (2007). Physical activity of moderate intensity and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Diabetes Care 30, 744–75210.2337/dc06-1842
4. DiPietro L, Gribok A, Stevens MS, Hamm LF, Rumpler W. Three 15-min bouts of moderate postmeal walking significantly improves 24-h glycemic control in older people at risk for impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Care. 2013;36(10):3262-3268. doi:10.2337/dc13-0084
5. Harvard Health Publishing. “5 Surprising Benefits of Walking.” Harvard Health,
6. Nieman DC, Henson DA, Austin MD, et alUpper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adultsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2011;45:987-992.
7. Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

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George Zakharia was a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy at the time of this blog.

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