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Walking has easily become the most popular form of exercise. It is also the only form of exercise for which the rate of participation does not decline as 1 ages. In fact, in a recent national survey, the highest percentage of regular walkers as a group was that of men 65 years of age & older. Because walking is the lowest-impact form of exercise we can perform, it is now considered the slowest as well as surest method for obtaining physical fitness.

Because walking was once considered too easy to be thought of as actual exercise, many did not see the action as having the additional impact of improving physical fitness. However a study now clearly shows that walking, especially if done briskly and regularly, is an excellent form of exercise. Consider some of the following data regarding walking as an activity for the purposes of creating physical fitness.

First walking burns approximately the same amount of calories per mile as does running. Though seen at first as impossible, people have begun to understand that the key is that it simply takes longer to cover the mile while walking than it does while jogging. Walking, however, is of course much less stressful on the body, particularly in regards to the pummeling effects on a person's feet, ankles, and knees when involved in long distance jogging. Recent research indicates that a brisk walking pace of 4 miles per hour, the equivalent of one mile every 15 minutes will burn the same number of calories as jogging at a pace that covers the same distance in 8 1/2 minutes.

Although increasing walking speed will not burn significantly more calories per mile, a vigorous walking pace will actually produce more dramatic conditioning effects on a person. The key point here is the person's initial fitness level. A person in poor shape will receive significant benefit from a slow speed of walking. However, someone in better shape will either need to walk faster or farther to improve their current conditioning level. A positive impact of increased pace or longer walking distances is the residual benefit of that exercise. Because such a work out pace increases a person's metabolism rate, their rate will remain elevated after the work out is complete resulting in the burning of additional calories.

Among the most attractive aspects of walking is that almost everybody can do it. Nobody needs to take lessons to learn how to walk. In addition, all you need to do to become a more serious walker is walk faster, increase your distance and walk more often. Walking can be done almost anywhere and the variety of options available is one of the things that make walking such a practical activity. You can consider the mall, the neighborhood or easy hiking trails, with the weather dictating a choice on a given day. Most importantly, walking doesn't cost anything - there are no club fees, no equipment to buy, and no lessons to be taken. Your only required equipment is a comfortable pair of shoes and clothing to match, items that of course can be worn at other times.

Because of its low impact nature, walking is now considered more effective than running and other more highly-touted activities when it comes to weight loss. The reason is because walking is virtually devoid of injury potential and because it has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise.

If you need some statistics to help you understand why walking is good for you, try the following. Just thirty minutes of walking a day reduces Cardiovascular Heart Disease by 30 to 50%. In addition, the more active you are now, the less likely you are to die in the next 11 years. So if you want the surest form of health improvement with the least likely form of injury or setback potential, then consider walking as your form of exercise. Since walking for exercise can be done to get you from one location to another, can be done alone or with a partner for the purposes of socialization and can be done at any pace for any distance, its easily the most attractive form of exercise for everyone. The person just starting a new exercise routine as well as the veteran participant that has already developed a fundamental level of fitness will enjoy walking as a form of exercise.