By James M. Rippe

Many people mistakenly think that exercise needs to be painful to be beneficial. Nothing could be farther from the truth, particularly when you have heart disease. Extensive research demonstrates some simple facts about walking:

  • Virtually everyone can get aerobic benefit from walking. Walking is particularly suitable for patients with a variety of heart conditions because the intensity is extremely flexible.

  • Walking is usually the simplest and most convenient form of physical activity for the vast majority of people.

  • Walking is simple — as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, opening your front door, and setting off down the road.

  • Most of the research that shows that regular physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease has focused on walking.

  • For most people, walking is the best form of regular exercise to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease — according to 90 percent of physicians.

If you prefer a different form of physical activity and/or aerobic exercise, however, don’t be dismayed. Almost everything you just read about walking also applies to other forms of aerobic exercise. All aerobic activities are equally good in terms of their cardiovascular benefits.