Regular exercise, along with a healthy diet, is a key component of any successful weight-loss program. But if you have a significant number of pounds to shed, the idea of starting a new, strenuous exercise regimen may seem overwhelming and intimidating   particularly if your current lifestyle is sedentary. Research has long shown that walking for 30 minutes at least three times a week can provide significant health benefits, including effective and safe weight loss. If you need to lose weight, here are five reasons you should incorporate regular walking into your diet plan.

Walking Burns Calories   The science of losing weight boils down to a simple but fundamental concept: creating a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is the state of burning more calories than you consume. It forces your body to use fat reserves rather than food for energy, which ultimately results in weight loss. Walking, like any other physical activity, burns calories and is an effective but non-strenuous way to create the calorie deficit necessary to lose extra pounds.

Walking Wards off Disease   Numerous health studies have shown that walking regularly can stave off or help manage common diseases such as high-blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. That's because a brisk walk can get your heart pumping, which in turn lowers your systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats and contracts) and stabilizes your blood-sugar levels. Research also shows that walking can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among Americans.

Walking Promotes Good Mental Health   Aside from losing weight and improving your physical health, walking can also benefit you emotionally and mentally. It can improve your mood, alleviate stress and boost your energy levels. Health professionals have also long proclaimed that regular physical activity leads to improved sleep.

Walking Can be as Effective as Jogging   Calorie for calorie, walking may not burn as many as jogging would in the same amount of time. However, walking can still be as productive and good for losing weight as jogging. They are essentially the same activity that uses the same muscle groups, just at different intensities. And since walking is low intensity, you don't run the risk of potential injuries that you could with running, such as joint damage, muscle strains, ankle sprains and more. To rev up your walking workout without increasing the intensity, use ankle or hand weights as you walk.

Walking is (Almost) Effortless   Walking doesn't require any athletic skills, special equipment or vast amounts of endurance. Thus, it's a great physical activity for beginners, especially those who are overweight or obese. Simply put on some comfortable shoes, select a route and get going!

Whether you walk for ten minutes or an hour, regular cardio at any speed can help you shed those pesky pounds and get in shape.

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