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By Dominique Carson

On the radio, we've heard various songs about walking from the gospel duo Mary Mary, R&B queen Jill Scott, the late R&B legend Isaac Hayes, and hip-hop and rock legends Run-DMC and Aerosmith. Whether the artists were talking about walking physically or metaphorically, it is not just a simple activity; it's one of the best, most approachable ways to maintain a healthy weight and live longer. 
    Walking can be done almost anywhere, and it's a great way to burn calories, enhance relaxation, and reduce anxiety. Whether you're walking speedily or at a slower pace through hills, you're still reaping the benefits of this easy and accessible exercise. 
Denise Austin, a renowned fitness coach, has long advocated for the power of walking. She encourages everyone to walk at their own pace for 30 minutes, track their minutes, and discover the transformative effects of this simple activity on their health, sleep hygiene, energy, and well-being. She has even designed a 'Fit and Fun challenge' that incorporates walking and mobility exercises. The key, she emphasizes, is consistency in getting your daily steps in, regardless of your fitness level. 
   "Walking has always been a source of my cardio. It has tremendous benefits, from supporting a healthy immune system to boosting your metabolism and strengthening your joints, muscles, and bones. It's also amazing for stress relief and enjoying a little "me time," said Austin. 
  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking can help reduce your risk of these common health problems: 
·    Heart disease ·   Obesity ·   Diabetes 
·    High blood pressure    ·  Depression 


Other advantages of walking include improving your mood.  By taking a simple stroll in the park or being in tune with nature sedates the nervous system and decreases hostile characteristics. Suppose you walk home from work or school for an hour twice a week. In that case, you're improving your heart health and reducing your chances of chronic medical diseases or conditions such as obesity, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), major depressive disorder (MDD), type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. 
   According to the National Institutes of Health, walking can improve sleep quality, lower sleep disturbances, boost brainpower, decrease the chances of varicose veins, alleviate joint pain, protect bones, stimulate the digestive system, and increase the immune system. 
   Walking can also help creatives solve their problems because they're more motivated to work on their health goals and improve their mental health. 
   Although walking has benefits, it's essential to stay safe by following these suggestions: walk in areas for pedestrians, wear a reflective light or vest during the evening or morning, wear sturdy shoes with arch support, wear comfortable clothing, hydrate, and wear sunscreen on humid days. It would help if you avoided distractions by staying alert, reducing the volume while listening to music, and paying attention to your surroundings and other potential hazards.  
   To get those steps in , create a walking routine to challenge yourself and incorporate it into your everyday life. As you walk consistently over time, you can increase your speed and distance. Each time you walk, your heart rate increases and remains elevated. Walking is accessible for people of all ages and stages of life, which makes it easier to maintain wellness goals. 


Take a Walk! for better health

How to include more steps in your day 
Once you've determined your goals, try these ideas for fitting more walking into your routine: 

• Head out for a refreshing stroll with a furry friend. If you don't have a dog, consider offering to walk dogs at an animal shelter to help them get the exercise they need. Alternatively, you can turn this activity into a social affair by teaming up with a friend and taking their dog for a walk together.
• Try listening to music. A lively tune or something with a strong beat can make your activity more enjoyable and help motivate you to walk farther or faster.
• Get the whole family involved! Instead of just sitting and watching a movie, why not opt for a walk or hike together instead?s counts as steps and burns calories.

Walking for better health

• Workday Walk Breaks. Throughout your workday, it's important to remember to take short walking breaks to re-energize yourself. By setting reminders in your calendar, you can ensure that you don't forget to take these well-deserved breaks.
• Park Further Away. We know you've heard this before, but consider selecting parking spots that are located farther away from the entrance of your destination. Additionally, if you utilize public transportation, you can opt to alight from the bus one stop earlier and complete the remaining distance on foot.
• Take the stairs.   Even going down the stairs counts as steps and burns calories. 

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