With the proliferation of fitness trackers such as Fitbit, people looking to lead a healthy lifestyle tend to think of a successful day of exercise in steps.
According to Wetumpka-based physical therapist Anthony Hall, DPT and center manager at Rehab Associates, the benefits of walking are nearly limitless.
"If we went through all the benefits of walking, we would be here forever," Hall said.
It is an exercise most anyone can do in his or her neighborhood, a local park or even a track.
Eclectic resident Karen Scanlan is a dedicated walker.
"I'm a cancer survivor," Scanlan said. "(Walking is) one of the very important things to stay healthy and active. It helps with blood pressure, triglycerides and all that."
She said walking also helps her stay away from unhealthy foods.
"It makes me want to eat better and not eat so much junk," Scanlan said. "The benefit of walking would not be there if I ate a candy bar."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America.
"What a lot of people do not understand, when you're walking you’re strengthening your cardiac muscles, your heart," Hall said. "By increasing your respiration rate, you increase the strength of that heart muscle and decrease the risk of heart attacks. That's huge."
Hall said the benefits of walking certainly benefit older generations.
"Walking gets you outside and helps a lot of people get that Vitamin D and walking is a big thing with arthritis," he said. "Most the time it shows itself in the major joints like the knees and hips. Arthritis will eat away at those joints.
"However, walking moves that joint around and gets the fluid moving around. It's almost like it's coating your joints with fluid and it's really stopping or slowing the progression of arthritis in the major joints."
Hall warns against everyone following the same physical activity plan.
"I always tell my patients it depends on their physical level as to how long they should exercise," he said. "You got to be smart with that. The best thing to do is start off with a good, safe baseline of 10 minutes. Once you can walk that 10 minutes without any trouble, bump it up to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes."
He also advised people to use proper movements while walking.
"The biggest thing to do is making sure you have the proper mechanics," he said. "Make sure to hit the ground with the heel and rock through with the foot. Make sure your feet and toes are facing forward.
"If you start off walking that five minutes and work yourself up to an hour, but you do not have the proper mechanics, that can build up to an issue that shouldn't happen."