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Walking: it's worth it!

Walking is the simplest, easiest and most versatile form of exercise, and it’s becoming increasingly popular as an aerobic activity. Much kinder to the joints and skeletal system than running, walking can provide great cardio benefits and improve overall fitness when it’s done  with some pep in your step. The average stroll takes about 25 minutes per mile, so the fitness walker should aim for about 15 minutes per mile. You might need some time to get up to that speed, though.

Who benefits from walking workouts? 

Just about everyone. You’ll notice improvements in your overall health just by increasing the intensity and/or time spent walking. It’s especially beneficial for people with joint pain, who are out of shape, over 40 or who have a family history of heart disease. If you’re truly out of shape, start with short distances on level ground — with your doctor’s approval first, of course.

Walking isn’t only great for you physically. It can also benefit your mental and emotional health, including helping with stress reduction. You’ve been walking since infancy. So why not make walking an integral part of your fitness program?

What to know before you go 

The only special equipment you’ll need for a fitness walk is a good pair of shoes that provide plenty of support. Running shoes are a great choice, and there are even shoes specially designed for walking. If you need a new pair, consider buying them at a sports store where a trained expert can help you. 

Your Apple Watch® is going to become your best friend 

It will help you count your steps and work toward your daily active calorie goals. Keep an eye on your Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor too, to make sure you’re staying within your target heart rate. 

How much walking is ideal? 

Try walking at a vigorous pace three to five times per week for 20 to 45 minutes each time. If you choose to walk at a slower pace, try walking for longer periods of time. Changing stride lengths, increasing the pace and swinging your arms all increase the intensity of the activity.

Start slow and stretch well 

As with all true aerobic activity, vigorous walking needs a warm-up and cool-down period. Simply walking at a slower pace at first will usually do the trick. Stretching afterwards is always important. For people who prefer to walk at a slower pace for their entire workout, it’s possible to get aerobic benefit by walking for a longer period. Find a scenic place and go for it!

Need help with creating and sticking with healthy habits? The Attain by AetnaSM app helps you your body moving and get your heart pumping. And you can earn points for hitting daily and weekly goals. Download today in the App Store. Already using the app? Head over to the “Actions” tab in the app and start building healthy habits today.

This material provides a general overview of the topic. Health information is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a therapist, physician or other health care professional. Contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs.