Reap the benefits of walking and put yourself on a path to a healthy life. From relieving everyday back pains to easing stress symptoms, the benefits you receive from daily walking are astounding. When you walk every day, you get stronger and healthier — just by doing the bare minimum. Imagine how healthy you can get when you pick it up a notch.
Creating and maintaining a routine that involves walking for 30 minutes at least three times a week provides health benefits beyond keeping fit. Motivating yourself to keep to a schedule for regular walking ensures both your mental and physical health remains in check. It’s exactly what the doctor — and your spinal physician at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) — ordered!
Running on Empty
Walking is by far more optimal when compared to running when you have back issues. But studies show that runners tend to be faster in everything they do and also keep their weight down more easily. Fast walking, under a supervised plan of action, can get you many of the same results.
The benefits of walking outweigh those of running when it comes to creating other side effects, as well. While both forms of exercise serve as cardio workouts, running burns many more calories, mile for mile. But running, which is a high-impact exercise, can cause:
- Increased pain in your lower back
- Sciatica problems
- Muscle strains
- Lower back muscle sprains
- Herniated discs
- Shin splints
Easy Benefits of Walking Daily
If you’re not very active in general, creating a simple schedule can enhance your motivation. If you’ve recently had back surgery or are undergoing treatment for back pain, discuss your plans for walking with your doctor and physical therapist to get the green light on your plans.
Once you’re walking, even a little, every day, you can expect to see physical changes. Some of the important benefits of walking include:
- Weight maintenance
- Prevention and management of certain chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
- Improved mood
- Suppression of depressed feelings
- Strengthened bones and muscles
- Reduced back pain
- Improved balance and coordination
Walking Tips and Techniques
Follow proper walking techniques or you may end up with many of the same side effects you’d get from running — without the added benefit of more rapid weight loss. Keep your body relaxed and in an upright position with your head facing forward. Engage your core to keep your posture erect to add to the benefits of walking.
Other tips to get the most out of your walking regimen without straining your back include:
- Start walking slowly for five minutes to warm up your joints. Recent studies show that stretching is best reserved for after your workout.
- Place your heel on the ground first, rolling onto your toe to avoid injury.
- Keep your arms swinging naturally at your sides.
- Hang on to the rails when using a treadmill.
- Walk in the deep end of a pool wearing a float belt on days when your back is acting up.
- Walk fast, but not so fast that you can’t keep up a conversation.
- Aim for 30 minutes two to three times a week.