Walking brings 5 life-changing benefits

Getting the best possible medical care doesn’t always involve sophisticated technology or the latest medications. Sometimes a short walk makes all the difference.

“About 80 percent of chronic medical conditions are lifestyle-related: smoking, poor eating, and being inactive,” said Harvey Hahn, MD, a Kettering Physician Network cardiologist. “Walking just 15 minutes a day has been shown to reduce your risk of developing health problems.”

Check out these five benefits walking can have on your life.

1. Prevent heart disease

Cardiovascular disease can be 80 percent preventable by implementing healthy lifestyle changes — one of these is incorporating physical activity. Walking as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help ward off heart problems and stroke.

2. Live longer

Dr. Hahn said that the most recent health data reveals that even ten minutes of walking provides a mortality benefit. In other words, walking can help add years to your life.

3. Improve quality of life

Whether you walk in three 10-minute treks or one half-hour burst, you’ll burn calories, improve your mood, and add to your energy.

“We also know that walking improves mood, aids sleep, increases cardiorespiratory fitness and decreases dementia,” said Dr. Hahn.

4. Strong muscles and bones

Walking also provides a great workout for many of the muscles in your hips, legs, and feet. Once in shape, these muscles do a better job of pumping blood back to your heart, improving your circulation and endurance.

Plus, the weight-bearing nature of walking helps keep bones strong, which can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Because walking is less intense than other types of exercises, it’s gentler on your joints, so you get the gains of more vigorous exercise without the pains.

5. Ease and accessibility

Dr. Hahn said walking is the “easiest, cheapest and one of the most effective forms of exercise you can do, both inside and outside.”

With that in mind, last fall Dr. Hahn founded Health Strides, a program that encourages anyone of any age to join a doctor for a 45-60-minute walk at various locations in the Dayton area.

“We are meeting at a nice location, like a park,” Hahn said. “We have a different doctor there on each walk, and folks can ask general medical questions. It’s great to be outside and social, and it’s another way to motivate you to exercise. Being social helps keep the brain active too.

Dr. Hahn said the program will begin again in the spring once the weather gets warmer.

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Kettering Physician Network is a multi-specialty group of physician practices, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kettering Health Network, which provides health services to individuals and families in the Greater Dayton and Cincinnati areas.

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