Walking is a great way to start if you're new to exercise or need to keep your activity low-impact. It doesn't require special equipment or a gym membership, and the list of benefits is long: In addition to building strong muscles (or keeping your muscle mass from shrinking) and increasing your bone density, it may help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, improve your total cholesterol level, lower your blood pressure and help you lose weight (especially around your mid-section).
In a study about the walking habits of nurses, researchers found that those who walked for four hours per week reduced their risk of suffering a hip fracture by 41 percent, compared with those who walked less than one hour per week [source: Taylor].
To get the most from your walks, keep your pace brisk and aim for 30 minutes about five days per week. Or track the number of steps you take each day. Buy a pedometer to find out how many steps you average in a day. Thirty minutes of brisk walking should result in about 10,000 steps, which, according to Shape Up America! Should be our daily goal for successful weight management [source: Navratilova, Shape Up America!]]