Have you ever witnessed a toddler walking for the first time? Such joy for a simple activity that most of us take for granted.
Sixty-two percent of adults are now walking for exercise or simply because they enjoy it. That’s up from 56 percent in 2005, according to the Vital Signs Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is still lots of room for improvement, though, because only about 48 percent of all adults get enough physical activity to positively impact their health.
The good news is that walking for exercise is increasing in all groups, but to fully reap the health benefits, we need at least 2-1/2 hours a week of moderate aerobic activity like walking.
“More than 145 million adults are now getting some of their physical activity by walking,” says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “People who are physically active live longer and are at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. Having more places for people to walk in our communities will help us continue to see increases in walking, the most popular form of physical activity among American adults.”
The report reveals that people in the West and Northeast regions of the U.S. walk the most, but walkers in the South are increasing in numbers, too. People who have high blood pressure or arthritis are stepping up their walking activity, but those with type 2 diabetes are not. Walking is increasing among people 65 and older more than other age groups.
If you’d like to add walking to your daily routine, The Mayo Clinic offers some tips to get started:
- Start slow and easy. If you’ve been inactive and tire easily, it’s best to start slow and easy. At first, walk only as far or as fast as you find comfortable.
- Set realistic goals. If your goal is to walk two hours a day 365 days a year, you might be setting yourself up to fail. Set realistic goals for yourself, such as 30 minutes five days a week.
- Track progress. Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration.
- Make it fun. If you don’t like walking alone, invite your spouse, partner, friend or neighbor to join you. You might also join a health club and use a treadmill. Vary your routine.
Let’s take our cue from the toddler and feel the joy of walking.
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