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A promenade for your health

Everyone knows how important exercise is to your health. Yet, many people admit that they don’t get as much exercise as they should. If you’re someone who isn’t currently active, getting into an exercise routine may feel intimidating.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week—about 30 minutes five times per week. There are thousands of options to stay fit, such as trendy CrossFit workouts, Pilates classes, spinning and even streaming exercise classes, which all require a commitment to a fairly intense regimen. 

But, there’s one workout that’s great for your health and may be easier than you think: walking.

“When it comes to getting exercise, many people underestimate the power of walking,” said Nicole Balchune, D.O., a Geisinger family medicine provider. “It’s a low-impact and low-stress way to get exercise and stay healthy.” 

Here are four benefits you could see from a daily walk.

Maintain and even lose weight
When most people think of losing weight, they think of high-intensity workouts at the gym. But, believe it or not, walking can have the same effect, too.

“Walking helps burn calories, which can result in weight loss,” said Dr. Balchune. “In addition, it can also help kick start your metabolism, which leads to fewer sugar cravings. This makes you less likely to eat calorie-dense foods, helping you lose weight over time.”

Strengthen your muscles
Long workouts at the gym aren’t the only way to build muscle. Walking builds muscle, too—both for people who are active exercisers and those who aren’t.

When you walk, your body makes small adaptations to your muscles and joints. As a result, your balance improves, and your body becomes more efficient with its movements. These small adjustments add up over time and can increase your strength and endurance.

For people who aren’t currently active exercisers, this can help ease you into an exercise routine. For people already in an exercise routine, walking helps with recovery. It can also be considered cross-training, which makes your workouts more effective.

Cut your risk of chronic disease
A daily walk can have a positive impact on your risk for chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Studies show that walking after a meal can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 points and drop your cholesterol levels, too. Other studies show that walking two hours a day can cut your risk of COPD in half. 

People who walk 30 minutes per day also had a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease. And for men, walking an hour a day at any pace can cut your stroke risk by a third. 

Lower stress and improve your mood

Need a little boost to your day? Take a walk! 

Walking can boost your mood and relieve stress. Walking cuts stress hormone levels in the body and releases endorphins—the feel-good hormones that cause the so-called “runner’s high.” Some experts believe that going outside for a daily walk can reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), too.

“Research shows walking can increase your level of creativity and problem-solving ability,” said Dr. Balchune. “This is likely because walking helps move blood to the brain, helping you to think better.”

Whether you’re looking to be more active, or if you have loftier fitness goals, walking is a great way to get started on an exercise routine. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about starting an exercise routine.

Nicole Balchune, D.O., is a primary care physician at Geisinger Pittston. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Balchune or another primary care physician, call 570-654-0880 or visit

Help fight heart disease and stroke by walking with Geisinger at the American Heart Association’s Northeast PA Heart Walk, slated for Saturday, April 28, 2018. Geisinger Northeast’s own chief administrative officer Ron Beer is the 2018 chair of the event. Click here for more details or to register.
Walks taking part in the American Heart Walk