health benefits of walking

  1. Walking after eating meals can control blood sugar

    Walk away from diabetes

    Preventing diabetes doesn't have to be a big challenge. In fact, it could be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, because new research shows that walking after eating can help your body deal with the spike in blood sugar that hits after meals.

    You don't have to walk fast, and you don't even have to go very far. All you have to do is wait about 30 minutes after each meal, and then hit the pavement for about 15 minutes at a pace of roughly 3 miles per hour.

    That speed isn't very fast at all.

    But walking after eating can actually help your body control its post-meal blood sugar levels even better than a single 45-minute walk taken at another time of the day, according to a set of experiments on 10 overweight, sedentary, and pre-diabetic seniors.

    The benefits last for up to three hours after that walk, or most of the way to your next meal. But they don't carry over, so if you want to keep getting that benefit, you have to keep walking after eating every day, and after every meal, according to the study published in Diabetes Care.

    That should be easy enough for most people -- but let me throw in a bit of a reality check here as well.

    If you're overweight, sedentary, and pre-diabetic like the seniors in the new study, then that walking after eating is an excellent place to start. But by itself, I don't think it's truly going to keep diabetes at bay.

    To really prevent this disease -- and for overall good health and fitness -- you need more activity than just a 15-minute walk. And don't forget that what's in your meals is even more important than what you do after them -- so along with increasing your activity levels, work on eating better and losing weight.

    I recommend the Mediterranean diet, which can help prevent diabetes and protect the heart without placing too many limits on your food options or leaving you hungry after meals the way other diets will.

  2. Walking exercise can help beat arthritis pain

    Walk away from arthritis

    It's clinically proven to help beat arthritis pain and restore physical function. It's not a drug or even a supplement. There's nothing to buy, no side effects and anyone can do it.

    Yet most arthritis patients don't.

    It's taking a simple walk, and walking exercise  it can do wonders for arthritis patients -- but new numbers from the CDC show that two-thirds of all arthritis patients do very little of it.

    Now, I can certainly sympathize. When you're in pain -- especially the constant pain of arthritis -- the last thing you feel like doing is getting up and going for a walk.

    Walking exercise may seem like a recipe for even more pain and misery.

    But it's not. In many cases, you may start to feel better almost immediately just by getting up, stretching out and moving around. And over the long term, regular walking can actually reduce overall pain levels and even restore lost physical function.

    Studies have shown that these benefits kick in with as little as 90 minutes of walking per week -- yet according to the new study, 13 percent of arthritis patients don't walk at all, while 53 percent say they walk less than those 90 minutes per week.

    I know in some cases it's more than just an aversion to walking exercise. There can be some safety concerns, and many arthritis patients suffer from balance and coordination problems because of the condition.

    But believe it or not, regular walking exercise can actually help reverse some of those problems as well.

    If you're very unsteady, of course you shouldn't do anything to risk a fall -- but you don't have to stay seated, either. There are programs and walking exercise groups that can help.

    Some of them are free, and they might even take place in your local park.

    Your doctor should be able to point you in the right direction, or you can check in with your local parks and recreation department or senior center to find a walking program near you.

  3. A long walking distance can be healthier than running

    A regular walking habit can slash your risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as -- or better than -- running.
  4. Walking and jogging prevents metabolic syndrome

    You can get healthier without even breaking a sweat -- and all you have to do is walk a little faster.

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