What's not to love about the single best thing you can do for your health? The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other makes you healthier, gives you more energy, and makes you younger. Plus, doing it lets you talk with friends, think through problems, and see what's new in the neighborhood. And if you happen to have some new walking gear, walking lets you show it off.
That's just the beginning. Check out a few other great things walking does for you:
1. Fends off the #1 killer: Regular walkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes, have lower blood pressure, and have higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol than couch sitters do. In one study of women, a regular walking program did just as much in the heart-protection department as more vigorous exercise did.
2. Changes your RealAge -- pronto: As little as 90 days after starting a regular walking program, its age-reducing effects can be measured. Find out your RealAge now.
3. Dims your chances of diabetes: Thirty minutes of walking a day makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin. That allows glucose to do its duty inside your cells rather than pile up in your bloodstream (that's what happens when you have diabetes) and cause other havoc.
4. Helps you kick the habit: Taking a daily 30-minute walk is one of the keys to the success of our YOU Can Quit plan. Even just a 5-minute walk cuts down on cigarette cravings -- it engages your brain's emotion centers, unleashing mood-enhancing hormones that decrease cravings and take your mind off that cigarette. And establishing a walking habit proves to you that you have the discipline to stick with your stop-smoking plan.
5. Slims you down: Burn more calories than you eat, and -- voila! You're wearing one-size-smaller clothes (find out just how many calories walking torches). Plus, walking can help squelch chocolate cravings and nix the stress and anxiety that often lead to overeating.
6. Keeps you sharp: Physical activity nourishes brain tissue and stimulates its production of neurons, synapses, and blood vessels. Some studies have found that walking can counter faltering memories in people over age 50.
7. Reduces stress: Anyone who has come back from a walk in a different frame of mind than they went out with can attest to this. Studies back up that walking benefits your mood -- and may even ward off depression and anxiety.
8. Revs up your energy: Not only can a walk perk you up when you need it, but also it helps improve the quality of your sleep, so you're more energetic all day long.
9. Boosts your immune system: Walking regularly can lower your risk of arthritis, macular degeneration, and even cancer by an astonishing 50% compared with people who don't exercise.
10. Keeps you going: Walking has the highest compliance rate of any exercise. Make your routine bulletproof: Get a buddy.