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The Benefits of Walking

The health benefits of walking have been well-established.   Getting regular aerobic exercise promotes cardiovascular benefits such as aerobic capacity as well as improved body composition and blood pressure.  In addition to these wonderful benefits to one’s physical health, improvements can also be seen with mood, pain management, and stress reduction.

A research article (cited below) found online in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health helps illustrate some of the physical and psychological benefits of a walking program.  As referenced in the article, the World Health Organization has recommended that healthy adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or some equivalent combination) per week in order to maintain optimal health.   The researchers who wrote this article implemented a 6-week campus “forest” walking routine for the experimental group in order to combine the physical and psychological effects of exercising in nature.  The group walked once a week during the lunch hour with 40 minutes of walking at a relaxed pace and a 10-minute rest break.  During the intervention period the subjects were also provided with a one-hour lecture on stress management.

As a result of these interventions, the researchers discovered significant improvements in health behaviors, parasympathetic nerve activity (potentially related to relaxation/stress reduction with forest walking), and improved markers for depression.   The study acknowledges a small and relatively homogenous sample size, but these results are supportive of the variety of health benefits that a walking program and stress management education can help with.

If you are considering starting a walking program and have a history of cardiovascular or other health issues you may want to discuss any specific parameters for exercise with your physician.  If you have a clean bill of health you may find a walking program to be a good tool for maintaining and improving your physical and mental health.  Check out the following recommendations as well as this walking + high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout!

-Remember to always start with a manageable distance and intensity and gradually build.

-Consider the terrain—hills or soft surfaces (sand, grass) add to the workout difficulty.

-Be accountable! If possible, track your pace, distance, and physical response (i.e. heart rate).

-If you have pain or other symptoms with your program discuss this with your doctor.


For more information, call Omaha Physical Therapy Institute today!

The Effects of a Campus Forest-Walking Program on Undergraduate and Graduate Students’ Physical and Psychological Health.  Kyung-Sook Bang, Insook Lee , Sungjae Kim, Chun Soo Lim, Hee-Kyung Joh, Bum-Jin Park, and Min Kyung Song. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017.


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