Our bodies are meant to move, no matter what our age. When we are sedentary, we slowly losr muscle and and gain fat, setting the stage for diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and heart disease. We also lose bone mass, which can eventually develop into osteoporosis.
But when we stay active, we counteract all these effects, so we are more likely to be spared the painful consequences of living – perhaps for many years – with a debilitating chronic disease.
Studies show that walking can help to reduce high blood pressure, and it is a good way to help manage diseases like type 2 diabetes. Walking increases insulin sensitivity, improving the cell’s ability to take up sugar, which reduces the high blood sugar levels that are one of the more dangerous symptoms of diabetes.
You don’t have to put in long hours of high-intensity exercise either. In one study, a group of women with high blood pressure had their pressures reduced as much by low-intensity exercise as by high levels of exertion after 3 months of training.
Walking has proven better than rest at relieving lower-back pain. It also helps us sleep better, makes our bowels function properly, clears our heads, improves moods, and reduces anciety by reducing blood levels of stress hormones.
You should never push yourself so hard that walking doens’t feel good. The point is to build up over time, keeping yourself within what your perceive as a mild effort. It takes about 6 weeks for walking to become a habit, but by 6 months, the people who are still at it begin to enjoy walking. They feel better when they do it than when they don’t do it. And that’s a big motivator.
If you are walking properly, it should feel delightful. It should feel like a glide. Poor posture and stiffness can contribute to aches and pains when you walk. It’s possible to find a walking coach to troubleshoot your stance and show you ways to improve.