Better Health Can Be a Walk in the Park
When the doctor says you need to lower your blood pressure, it can be overwhelming to think about all of the lifestyle changes you might need to make. One of the most daunting items on that list is adding exercise into your daily routine. But it doesn’t take waking up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym before work—simply incorporating more walking into your day is a good step in the right direction. A study from the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that taking brisk, 10-minute walks three to four times a day can decrease your blood pressure. Researchers have also found that walking reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent. The people who walked longer distances, walked at a faster pace, or both benefitted from the most protection. If you’re serious about lowering your blood pressure, it’s time to walk the walk. Here are some tips to get you started.
Get creative with your time
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, five days a week. Don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to exercise? Get off the bus a few stops earlier or take advantage of your lunch break to sneak in a short walk.
Keep going, and going, and going…
Unlike high-intensity cardio, you can walk for long stretches of time. Walking is easier on joints than running and is also a great form of physical therapy or rehabilitation post-injury or surgery. Listen to a new podcast, check out a new park, or grab a buddy to walk with you to help keep your speed brisk and your mind busy.
A mental health boost
Peeling your eyes away from all your demanding screens and breathing in some fresh air while you take a walk is a great way to clear your mind, ease anxiety and get creative juices owing. One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent.
The need for speed (walking)
A leisurely, long walk on the beach is great, but a brisk walk on the beach is even better. Pumping your arms, choosing a hilly path, wearing ankle weights and engaging your core are all ways to make your body work harder during your walk.
Find your stride
Even when you can’t hit up a park or trail, walking doesn’t have to be monotonous. On a treadmill, adjust the level of incline for an added challenge, and incorporate different walking styles, such as lunges, to mix things up.
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