With all of the different types of exercise that one can do, along with the various types of exercise equipment and gym classes available to sign up for, there’s really no shortage of ways that we can keep fit. However, walking is one of the best workouts you can give your body as it really covers a lot of bases. Not only is it cost-effective, but it’s simple enough for anyone to do regardless of their fitness level. There are also a lot of bonus effects that regular walking can have on your overall health, including the mind!

One of the biggest reasons why the body loves walking is because it can actually add to your life rather than take from it. In fact, research has shown that you can improve your quality of life by as much as 2 years just from walking. You also don’t need to do a lot of walking in order to reap its many other benefits. For example, walking for just 2 hours per week decreases your risk of a stroke by as much as 30%, and it can also protect and improve the regions of your brain that are associated with memory, while going for as little as 30-minute walks each day can reduce your risk of developing depression, or reduce symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety by almost 40%. Walking also helps strengthen the bones and improve your mobility as you get older. If you walk for 4 hours per week, you decrease your chance of a hip fracture by as much as 45%, along with other types of fractures and bone problems. It can also improve the heart. By walking for just 40 minutes twice per week, your risk of heart failure can decrease by as much as 38 percent, while going for 20-minute walks per day can lower your risk of heart disease by as much as 30%. Walking is also a fantastic exercise to partake in if you’re wanting to lose weight. One Canadian study showed that going for one-hour walks over a 14-day period can reduce belly fat by as much as 20%.

If you’re someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy exercising, it’s not uncommon to find yourself finding ways (also known as excuses!) to talk yourself out of it. For example, you might think that you don’t have the time – but when it comes to exercise it’s important to make time, as your health depends on it. If you’re someone who tends to rush to get ready for work in the morning, set your alarm earlier so that you have enough time to go for a quick walk – even if it’s just around the block – as something is better than nothing. If you don’t have time to fit in a workout in the morning, try doing so after work – even if you feel tired. Another common reason that people will use to avoid working out is by suggesting it’s boring. To make your walking routine more fun, you can always invite friends or family along. This can also be a great way to keep each other motivated. If you absolutely can’t stand walking, then try finding an exercise regimen that’s right for you.

Whenever you do exercise, it’s also important to incorporate stretching into that – and it can be beneficial to do both before and after your workout. Whether you’re walking or doing a different type of exercise, you want to stretch the muscles that you’re going to use the most.One great examples of a stretching exercise includes lunges/squats. By stretching you not only reduce your risk of injury, but it can also boost your overall agility, balance, and even speed.