Do you want to get fit this summer, but fear it requires a strenuous workout routine? Find out how you can lose weight and improve your overall health with the simple act of walking!

It may be difficult to believe that an act as simple as walking 30 minutes a day can improve our lives so significantly. But if you do need reasons to begin walking, check out these benefits for people who walk regularly.

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Lower your cholesterol levels: More specifically, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol. Exercise stimulates production of enzymes to remove LDL from the blood vessels. It also increases circulation, which breaks down and moves it out of the body. The American Heart Association says that walking is the preferred physical activity for obtaining beneficial cholesterol levels since it is so easy, convenient and low-cost. To obtain this benefit, walking must be at a brisk speed that brings your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes.

Lower your weight and body fat: Walking at a moderate pace for 30 to 60 minutes burns stored fat and builds muscle, speeding up your metabolism and helping you lose weight. Sixty minutes of brisk walking translates to 10,000 steps, burns 300 to 500 calories, and lead to weight loss if you do it daily.

Lower your blood pressure: A study in the Journal of Hypertension says a brisk 10-minute walk four times a day can lower your blood pressure for 11 hours.

Make your heart stronger: Brisk walking increases your heart rate, strengthens heart muscles and improves circulation through your body, carrying more oxygen and nutrients to your organs. Better cholesterol, reduced weight and lower blood pressure all benefit your heart as well. Brisk walking for 30-60 minutes, five times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by about 40%.

Reduce your pain and joint swelling that accompanies arthritis: Keeping your weight at a healthy level reduces stress on joints, resulting in less pain. But regular exercise such as walking can strengthen the muscles around your joints, and help you maintain bone strength.

Lower your risk of disease: Walking an hour daily or a total of seven hours a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 20%, heart disease by 30% and diabetes a whopping 50%.

Boost your immune system: A recent study found that walkers suffer half as many colds as those who are sedentary. The walkers also had an increase in immune system cells that attack bacteria and viruses.

Have a longer life! Studies show moderately walking 30 minutes a day lengthens your life by 1.3 years.

Reference: walgreens.com/walk, "The Physical Benefits of Walking"

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