Let me tell you something that is absolutely true: if you walk, and if you make a point of including some hills in the walk, where you are walking uphill, you will be  giving your lower body all the exercise it needs. You need do nothing more.

Obviously, walking doesn’t do a lot for your arms. It does tone your arms, but it won’t pack muscle on your arms. But, if you do the walking that includes hill work, then add a little upper body resistance training, such as weights, or pull-ups and push-ups, to strengthen your upper body, it is all you are going to need to look great and be fit.

As far as stamina and heart health, walking does it all. As far as improving sleep, enhancing immunity, elevating mood, improving digestion, controlling weight, burning fat, walking does it all. Walking delivers all the benefits that exercise can achieve for the body and mind. It does everything but strengthen your arms. So, you have to add a little bit of upper body work; and that’s it. Then you’ve covered everything.

Walking has so many advantages.  You can’t get hurt. Well, I suppose you could trip over the curb and fall, or get bit by a dog, but we’re talking low probability. Walking is the safest exercise there is. Anything else you can name is more dangerous than walking.

Walking is the least expensive exercise there is. A pair of good walking shoes is the total expense, and it’s worth it to get good ones. But hey, you’ve got to buy shoes anyway. So, in reality, walking is free.

What’s really nice is if you can walk right from your door. So, when people are out to buy or rent a home, they should make it a factor. “What’s this neighborhood like for walking? Will I be able to take a peaceful, attractive, comfortable walk? Are there hills nearby so that I can get in some hill work?” It’s great for walking where I live, and I would never move into a place where I couldn’t take nice walks right from my door.

Of course, if you have to drive a little to a park or greenbelt to walk, that's fine too. There's nothing wrong with it. But, it's really nice if you can do it from home.  

 

Of course, you’ve got to be diligent about it. When you’re out on a fitness walk, don’t stop to talk to the neighbors. Wave, be friendly, but indicate that you’re on a fitness walk and you’ll talk to them later. Don’t stop to smell the roses or read the house sale flyers or anything else. Walk briskly; keep going; and don’t stop until you’re done.  And if you’re not in good shape to begin with, then start with shorter walks and build up.

Walking lowers your blood pressure, helps keep your prostate healthy if you are a man, helps prevent cancer (by relieving the pooling of blood in the abdomen in pelvis, where  most cancers occur) helps you think more clearly, helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and it even helps relieve and prevent acid reflux.

Walking is the most natural movement, and the cadence of walking (which is biomechanically complex) is hard-wired into your brain. It’s a beautiful mechanism.

And the older you get, the more sense it makes to make walking the primary and central exercise that you do. There is simply nothing better.