Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Benefits of Walking

Here is an article I wrote for our firm newsletter - the e-Legal Pad - on how walking during the lunch hour can help you stay healthy.

The Benefits of Walking During Your Lunch Hour

Did you know that there is something simple you can do every day that will burn calories, be good for your heart, and help you stay young? Walking is good for just about anybody, and the health benefits are particularly significant. Walking is such an easy exercise to work into your busy day as well. You can work in a 30-45 minute walk over your lunch hour every day or a couple days a week. Luckily both the Eau Claire and Wausau offices have downtown locations, where walking routes are numerous, scenic, and can be completed in any amount of time that you have handy during your lunch hour.

Here are seven great reasons to start walking:

1. It’s great for the heart

Walking briskly for 30 minutes every day lowers your odds of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors linked to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

2. It cuts breast-cancer risks

Walking, even for a few hours a week, significantly reduces breast-cancer risk, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The thinking is that walking helps reduce levels of body fat, a source of estrogen.

3. It helps you sleep

A brisk walk in the afternoon will help you get a better night’s sleep. Experts say that walking may boost levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which relaxes you. Or, the rise in body temperature brought on by walking may signal the brain to lower your temperature later, which promotes sleep.

4. It makes you happy

Walking can relieve depression, anxiety, and stress. Walking helps the body produce endorphins, the mood-boosting chemicals linked to “runner’s high.”

5. It keeps you slim

Walking for 30 minutes a day can help prevent weight gain. The reason walking helps control your weight: It’s easy!

6. It staves off senior moments

Several studies in older people suggest that walking—even for as little as 45 minutes a week—helps ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Regular strolls are also linked to mental sharpness, and helping to keep your mind active.

7. It protects your bones

Just 30 minutes of walking three times a week does wonders to prevent and treat thinning bones. This kind of exercise, which uses 95 percent of your muscles, actually pushes your bones to get stronger so they can handle the load.

I always keep a pair of tennis shoes in my office for lunch time walking opportunities.

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