Ask a Health Care Professional: Walking For Health

Regular exercise, including walking, can help you lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack, lower blood pressure, control diabetes, and maintain a healthy weight. Dr. Eugene Sun, BCBSNM vice president and chief medical officer, discusses the health benefits of walking. Exercise can also improve your mood by releasing substances in your body know as endorphins, which can help decrease feelings of depression.

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EUGENE SUN: Hi, I’m Dr. Eugene Sun, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico. Walking is a great way to take a break from work or chores, or just to relax, and is a good way to improve your overall health. Regular exercise, including walking, can help you lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack, lower blood pressure, control diabetes if you have it, and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise can also improve your mood by releasing substances in your body know as endorphins, which can help to decrease feelings of depression. As we age, our bodies lose muscle and bone strength. This can lead to problems such as back and joint pain, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Muscle weakness can lead to falls and serious injury. If you stay active and exercise regularly, you can slow the loss of muscle mass and strength, slow the rate of bone loss, and reduce joint and muscle pain. Regular exercise can also improve your mobility and balance which decreases the chances of falling. Walking can add a lot to any exercise routine you choose. If you have not been walking or exercising, it's never too late to start. Remember to be prudent and start off slowly. If you have any medical conditions consult with your doctor for recommendations and precautions prior to starting a new exercise program. Gradually increase the level, duration, and frequency of exercise. Develop realistic and measurable goals about what you want to accomplish. To help you achieve results consider starting a walking diary to record and track how much you walk on a daily basis. Write down the time of day and how long or how far you walked. Review your dairy on a weekly and monthly basis to ensure that you are meeting the goals you set for yourself. When the weather is nice, walking around your neighborhood or a nearby park is a good way to get your exercise. During the summer, minimize the time you are outside during the hottest part of the day, usually between 10am and 4pm. Now that autumn is right around the corner, it’s a great time to start, or continue, your walking regimen.

See you on the trail!

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