It's a beautiful sunny day. You wish you were in better shape. And you still can't think of a good reason to start a walking program? Marilyn Bach, Ph.D., author of ShapeWalking, gives you six reasons to get off the couch and let your feet do the walking.
1. It's an easy way to a healthier you. Brisk walking lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in women, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. So in addition to strengthening your calves, hamstrings, arms (your entire body, really) walking can help prevent disease and illness. The bottom line: It does a body good.
2. You'll stick to it. Experts call it adherence. Others call it dedication. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people tend to stick to a walking program better on a long-term basis than to other exercise activities. After all, you can do it anywhere -- with no equipment required.
3. It's a no pain, all gain proposition. Your body will thank you for choosing such a stress-free exercise method with low risk of injury. The impact of running on your joints is about three times your body weight, while walking is only about 1.3 times your body weight. "Lower impact means there's less risk that you'll have sore muscles, aching joints and repetitive stress injuries," explains Dr. Bach.
4. Both social butterflies and soul searchers enjoy it. There's no better way to catch up on gossip, brainstorm business plans or mull over an idea with a friend. Instead of meeting for a sit-down lunch, take a stroll. Or if you're in desperate need of some alone time, walking is also a great way to relax, reflect and re-energize after a long day or before the start of a busy one.
5. It's an excuse-proof workout. Walking is cheap and easy. No gym membership or expensive equipment required. Bad weather? Head to a mall -- some cities are extending hours so walkers can stride (and window shop) before stores open.
6. You can walk your way to the Fountain of Youth. A new study from the American Academy of Neurology reports that walking can keep your mind sharp as you age. Researchers tested the cognitive abilities of 5,925 women ages 65 and older, and then tested them again six to eight years later. Their finding: women who walked an average of 18 miles a week had the least cognitive decline. Women who said they walked the least -- just half a mile a week -- showed the greatest decline.