Walking.  One of the most basic human movements, that most of us probably take for granted.  For many it may not even register as “exercise”, but a good walk has so many benefits that it is considered to rival running in many long-term health effects.  If you are not currently in a regular exercise program, starting to walk a few times a week is an excellent place to start getting in to the habit.

The general health effects of walking mirror those of any other exercise regimen, but its effectiveness has been confirmed by many studies.  The Runners and Walkers Health Study shows that walking can reduce the risk of heart disease 9% (which is even more than running, in this study).  Another study, published in Creative Nursing, showed improvements in weight, BMI, systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol in a group of women who walked at least 150 minutes a week.

Walking briskly with your arms swinging can also help your core strength, which will help prevent back pain, especially if you spend long periods of time sitting throughout the day.  While we may not always see it, our bodies are very interconnected, so a good walk will cause abdominal and back muscles to stretch and contract, strengthening the whole core, helping your posture and balance!

Finally, there is the mood connection.  All exercise can improve your mood, but most also “stresses” your body.  While this is considered good stress, because it causes beneficial changes to your body, for those with stress issues already, vigorous exercise may prove to not be the best choice.  Walking is less stressful, and so is a better choice for people feeling overwhelmed and stressed in other areas of life.

Besides, being outside, hopefully with a loved one, can always put you in a better mood, right?  Find some botanical gardens or easy hiking path, or just head out around your neighborhood, and do something so simple but so good for your body and mind!