If you prioritize good health and fitness, you already know that it’s important to make time for physical activity every day. But did you know that walking is one of the easiest yet most beneficial ways you can stay in shape? Learn how you can live a longer life by walking regularly and tracking your activity with a step counter.

How Walking Benefits Your Body and Increases Your Lifespan

You might be surprised to learn just how much walking can improve your health right away as well as in the long term. Walking is an easy way to get your blood pumping, ease joint pain, and improve your mood. Since it adds to your energy expenditure, walking can also help you sustain your body weight and decrease your risk of obesity.

When you walk for at least a half hour each day, the long-term effects are even more exciting. Over time, you can lower your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and you can lower your blood pressure, your blood sugar level, and your risk of developing diabetes. When you make walking a regular habit, you can also decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis, colon cancer, and breast cancer. In fact, walking seven hours a week can contribute to a 14 percent decrease in breast cancer risk.

Although disease prevention is certainly an incredible side effect of walking, the benefits don’t stop there. When you stay active with frequent walks, you help your immune system work more effectively. According to the Harvard Medical School, walking at least 20 minutes a day five days a week during flu season could reduce your sick days by almost half. Of course, when you decrease your risk of contracting illnesses and developing diseases, you also increase your lifespan. That means you could live longer just by making walks a regular habit.

So how much do you have to walk before you’ll see an effect? The American Heart Association recommends walking at least 30 minutes a day. If you can’t squeeze in a 30-minute walk around the block, you can even split your daily walking time into two or three chunks. Make a point of walking as briskly as you can to see the greatest benefits.

How Walking Compares to Other Types of Exercise

Now that you know how beneficial walking can be, you might be wondering if other physical activities or workout routines offer even more positive effects. So how does walking compare to other types of exercise?

According to the American Heart Association, walking is just as effective as running for reducing your risk of contracting heart disease. The comparisons don’t end there, though. Walking briskly also decreases your risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. That means brisk walking is just as effective at health promotion as running and jogging are. In some cases, walking may be even more effective at helping you sustain good health. After all, you’re more prone to experiencing stress-related injuries and joint pain when you run. Did you know that Lifesum’s calorie counter app allows you to track any type of activity, regardless of if it’s a sweaty gym session, a walk or a trip to the grocery store?

Keep in mind that you’ll have to dedicate more time to walking than you would to running, especially if you’re working toward a certain energy expenditure goal. The same goes for walking compared to spinning, aerobics, kickboxing, and other exercises. If you want to increase the intensity and the impact of your walking workout, try walking at a speed of 4 mph and carrying 2-pound free weights to help boost your strength.

How to Walk More Each Day

While most experts recommend starting small, with an easily manageable step goal each day, you’ll almost certainly want to ramp up your efforts once you begin to experience the positive effects of walking. To walk more each day, start by making sure you have the right gear. Always wear comfortable shoes that support your feet, and dress appropriately for the weather. After all, you don’t want to cut your workout short just because it gets cold or a few sprinkles start to fall.

Next, research your route before you head out the door. While you might enjoy exploring new streets or seeing new sights each time you walk, poorly maintained sidewalks or a complete lack of safe walkways could stop your walk before you even get warmed up.

Remember to treat walking like any other type of exercise. Before you head out for a walk, take the time to stretch and warm up so you don’t risk injury. Fit in a brief cool-down period at the end of your walk to feel your best after your workout.

How to Use a Step Counter App to Monitor Your Walking Patterns

Fitting in a total of 30 minutes of walking per day might not seem terribly difficult. If you’re always busy or if you don’t live in a particularly walkable area, however, you might struggle with taking 30 minutes out of your day. Fortunately, you can add shorter walks throughout the day to meet your goals and increase your daily step count.

For extra motivation to meet your goals, download a step counter app. These fun apps seamlessly connect how much you walk with what you eat. They track how many steps you’ve taken in a day, the number of calories you’ve burned while walking, and the number of steps you need to burn off the energy from your favorite foods.

A step counter app might even encourage you to squeeze in more steps wherever you can. For instance, you might find yourself parking as far away from the store as possible, taking an additional lap or two around your favorite store, climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, treating the dog to an extra walk, or even walking to new lunch spots during your midday break.

With its myriad health benefits and ability to help you live a longer life, walking is an essential exercise to add to your workout routine. When tracking your steps is so fun and easy, you can make regular walks a key part of your long-term health strategy.

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