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12 Steps to Fighting Arthritis by Walking

The pain and disability that come with arthritis may make you want to stay in your seat and plump yourself up with pillows, but if you really want to feel better, the Arthritis Foundation suggests taking a walk instead. From improving circulation to lightening your mood and improving your sleep, to strengthening your bones and muscles, to supporting the very joints you’re nursing, you could be closer to relief one step at a time.

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Besides the six just mentioned, here are six more reasons why walking is good for arthritis.

1. It leads to a longer life. I can’t say this enough: Stand, don’t sit. And, then get moving, even if it’s only a few steps at a time, or just slowly marching in place. Over 300 joints in your body make moving easier and more fluid, and this is a case of “use it or lose it.” With the guidance of your medical practitioner, you can begin your way to a longer life with an exercise program that involves walking.

The good news is data indicate that moving as little as 10 minutes for every hour of sitting may be enough to address issues that cause some joint pains, such as that in your lower back and neck.

2. It can lead to weight loss. If you’re moving, you’re burning more calories than if you’re sitting still. While the best way to induce weight loss is to address your diet rather than counting calories — preferably with a ketogenic diet that includes intermittent fasting — when you add a walking program to the bundle, you’ll see the pounds literally slip away.

3. It improves your breathing. When you walk your heart rate increases, and this causes you to breathe deeper. Epinephrine (adrenaline) and glucagon also begin to rise at this point to boost muscle activity. Epinephrine helps relieve asthma and allergies, which helps explain why walking and other exercises tend to have a beneficial impact on these ailments.

4 and 5. It helps slow mental decline and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s. If exercise isn’t at the top of your list for boosting your brain and memory function — not to mention slash your risk of cancer — then you’ll want to consider taking a walk for your brain. Especially in seniors who are at risk of dementia, cognitive decline can be reduced with a comprehensive program addressing diet, brain training and exercise, of which a daily walk can be a part.

6. It helps you do more, longer. Overall, once you start moving and your joints begin to loosen, you’ll become stronger, head to toe. More agile joints and stronger bones and muscles will make you feel like doing more, longer, too.

The bottom line is that standing requires your core muscles to be engaged, which often go unused when you sit in a slouched position. Your hips may also suffer when you sit too much, becoming tight with limited range of motion as they are rarely extended. Taking a walk can work those muscles and make you feel better.

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