Walking undoubtedly has the most die hard followers of any exercise known to man. The benefits of walking as exercise are many. In order for people to stick to an exercise routine, it not only has to work, it has to be do-able. The benefits of walking are so varied and so beneficial, that walking ranks first among "stick to it" ability.
Fresh air and sunshine
The majority of people work indoors these days. We not only need fresh air, sunshine and exercise, we crave it. When the opportunity presents itself, we are out the door to reap the benefits of mother nature. Walking gives us this opportunity to exercise our natural right to enjoy the great outdoors.
As we walk we experience the benefits of ever changing scenery. We're no longer staring at the computer screen, the inside of a cubicle, or the sweaty back of the guy in front of us in exercise class. We are real live people, in the real live world. Visual stimulation enhances the mind/body connection needed for everyday living.
Walking benefits the mind by giving us time to mull over life's problems. I do some of my best thinking while walking for exercise. There is no one there to interrupt my train of thought. It's just me and my feet pounding the pavement. How much simpler could exercise get than walking?
Fits any schedule
Walking benefits the schedule. The great outdoors is always right there waiting for you when you arrive home from work. It's always open 24/7. Those who work late and don't want to exercise at night can walk on a lunch break. Walking for exercise can be squeezed into any schedule any time.
Add intensity gradually
One of the benefits of walking as exercise is versatility. Start out with light walking on a specific route. Change routes to change scenery and intensity. If you wish, add faster movements. As your walking becomes more skilled, weights may be added to your exercise routine. You may also wish to alternate jogging with walking or begin running.
No equipment needed
Chances are, you already own a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Beyond that, just dress for the weather and go. If the added benefits of weights are needed, fill a couple sturdy zip lock bags with dried rice or beans. Put them in your pockets. Carry them if you wish to exercise arm muscles.
No special skills required
Put one foot in front of the other. That's it. No classes are required to reap the benefits of walking as exercise. Barring any physical handicaps, we all learned to walk before the age of two or so. Even those with some physical limitations might use the manual feature of the wheelchair to get some of the benefits of walking. If that's not possible, perhaps just a ride in the fresh air would be nice.
Free is always good. Walking is always free. There, I have saved the best of walking exercise benefits for last. As far as I know, nobody can charge to allow you to walk around your own town or neighborhood yet. Give them time, though, someone will surely try to reap the benefits of walking by charging for it.
This article was previously published on Yahoo! by this author.