Walking for Health and Fun

Walking for Health and Fun
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted January 31, 2015

Walking is the most popular form of physical activity in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walking for Health

Walking is possible for most people and does not require special skills or equipment, so it is a way for many people to be more physically active. Here are some health benefits of walking:

  • Increase your chances of living longer
  • Enhance your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities
  • Lower your risk for heart disease
  • Lower your risk for stroke
  • Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Lower your risk for some cancers

Walking for Fun

Aside from health benefits, walking and other physical activities give you a chance to have fun in the following ways:

  • Be with friends and family
  • Enjoy the outdoors
  • Improve your personal appearance.
  • Improve your fitness, so that you can participate in more intensive physical activities or sporting events
  • Feel more energetic

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The content of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans complements the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a joint effort of HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Together, the two documents provide guidance on the importance of being physically active and eating a healthy diet to promote good health.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are age-specific. So, you can learn about walking and other physical activities that are appropriate for “Children” who are six to 17 years of age, “Adults” who are 18 to 64 years of age, and “Older Adults” who are 65 years of age or older.

A third document presents Guidelines for children less than six years of age. The title of this document is Caring for Our Children. This document is issued jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.

How Much Physical Activity Do Adults and Children Need?

  • Adults need at least two and one-half hours (150 minutes) each week of physical activity at a moderate level. This effort is similar to a fast-paced walk.
  • Children need at least one hour each day, every day.

How to Support Walking in Your Community

  • Start a walking group with friends and neighbors
  • Help others walk more safely by driving the speed limit, yielding to walkers
  • Follow safe walking practices, such as using crosswalks when crossing streets
  • Participate in local planning efforts to identify locations of sidewalks and paths

Work with Local Business, Government, and School Leaders

  • Create opportunities to let community members use school tracks after school
  • Maintain existing sidewalks and walking paths
  • Promote walking paths with signs that are easy to read
  • Identify walking paths around or near work places, and promote them with signs and route maps

Help to Build a Culture of Physical Activity, such as Walking

A central idea of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is to help to build a culture where physical activity in general is the social norm.

Although dancing, jumping rope, lifting weights, doing yoga, or climbing on playground equipment at recess are all forms of physical activity that can be enjoyed by some people, walking slowly or briskly are physical activities that are possible for most people.

So, walk every day for health and fun!

A Note from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus:
Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first. But, even ten minutes at a time is fine. The key is to find the right exercise for you. It should be fun and match your abilities.

A disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

 References

 American Academy of Pediatrics. American Public Health Association. National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. Caring for Our Children. 3rd edition. 2011. [Guidelines for children less than six years of age](Accessed 28 January 2015)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). “How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?”   Physical Activity for Everyone: Guidelines. [Index for “Children Six to 17 years of Age,” “Adults 18 to 64 Years of Age,” and “Older Adults 65 Years of Age or Older”]
(Accessed 28 January 2015)

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). “Physical Activity for Everyone: Glossary of Terms.”
(Accessed 27 January 2015)

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Features. “Six in Ten Adults Now Get Physical Activity by Walking.”
(Accessed 27 January 2015)

 de David, A.C., Carpes, F.P., and Stefanyshyn, D. “Effects of Changing Speed on Knee and Ankle Joint Load during Walking and Running.”  Journal of Sports Medicine 33(4):391-7 (February 2015). [Epub August 8, 2014]
(Abstract accessed 27 January 2015)

Doescher, M.P., Lee, C., Berke, E.M., Adachi-Mejia, A.M., Lee, C.K., Stewart, O., Patterson, D.G., Hurvitz, P.M., Carlos, H.A., Duncan, G.E., and Moudon, A.V. “The Built Environment and Utilitarian Walking in Small U.S. Towns.”  Prevention Medicine 69C:80-86 (Septem ber 2014).
(Abstract accessed 27 January 2015)

 Li, W., Procter-Gray, E., Lipsitz, L.A., Leveille, S.G., Hackman, H., Biondolillo, M., and Hannan, M.T. “Utilitarian Walking, Neighborhood Environment, and Risk of Outdoor Falls among Older Adults.”  American Journal of Public Health 104(9) (September 2014).
(Abstract accessed 27 January 2015)

 National Institutes of Health (NIH). U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. “Exercise and Physical Fitness.”
(Accessed 27 January 2015)

 Nehme, E.K., Oluyomi, A.O., Calise, T.V., and Kohl, H.W., 3rd. “Environmental Correlates of Recreational Walking in the Neighborhood.”  American Journal of Health Promotion (AJHP). (January 23, 2015) [Epub ahead of print]
(Abstract accessed 27 January 2015)\

 Sun, G., Oreskovic, N.M., and Lin, H. “How Do Changes in the Built Environment Influence Walking Behaviors? A Longitudinal Study within a University Campus in Hong Kong.”  International Journal of Health Geographics 13:28 (July 2014).
(Abstract and free PubMed Central article accessed 27 January 2015)

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG).
(Accessed 28 January 2015)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG). “Chapter 1: Introducing the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”
(Accessed 28 January 2015)

 

 

 

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