If you have musculoskeletal pain, such as back pain and osteoarthritis, exercise can relieve your pain.
When we move our bodies, we release endorphins, which are hormones that improve mood and diminish pain. Exercise also increases blood flow to organs, joints, and muscles, which helps to further reduce pain.
One of the best exercises for total body health is walking, and walking on a routine basis can provide several benefits that reduce musculoskeletal pain and improve overall quality of life.
1. Improves overall health
In my practice, I always ask my patients, who are over 85 years old their advice for living a healthy and long life. Overwhelmingly they respond “I walk everyday.” Moreover, they report they have walked daily all of their lives. Because of their good health, they usually take few to no medications.
2. Helps Lose Weight
Walking burns calories. Most people only walk between 3,000 and 5,000 steps a day as part of their normal routine. However, I recommend that you wear a pedometer every day, and strive to walk 10,000 steps every day.
To start walking for fitness, try to begin with a 20-minute walk every day. If that’s too much, start slower. But set a goal of walking of 30 minutes a day, every day.
3. Improves your sleep
Walking improves the quality of your sleep. People who walk routinely also have increased energy.
4. Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Regular walkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes, lower blood pressure and higher levels of HDL (healthy cholesterol) than non-exercisers. This is because daily physical activity, like walking, can lower blood pressure and LDL (bad cholesterol), decrease the risk of many cancers and improve immune system function.
5. Lowers Risk of Cancer
Regular walkers have a decreased risk of many cancers compared to people who don’t exercise. Exercising also improves the immune system.
6. Keeps Your Bones Strong
When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones. This is referred to as “bone mass and density. Weight bearing exercises, like walking, increase the strength of your bones thereby decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing means your feet and legs support your body’s weight. A few examples of weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis are: Walking, dancing and stair climbing.
7. Helps to Boost Your Mood & Relieve Pain
Have you ever gone for a walk at a time when you were stressed? Think about how calm and refreshed you were when you returned. You witnessed firsthand that walking can help reduce stress. Walking may give you a mood boost by releasing your body’s natural happy drugs called endorphins. These endorphins also reduce pain.
If you are able to adhere to a routine walking program, you’ll be proud of accomplishing this goal. This will also help to increase your self-esteem.
Start walking today to help reduce your pain and to enjoy the health benefits associated with walking on a regular basis.
Remember to ask your physician before starting any exercise program.