If it is winter where you are - and perhaps you have been indulging in too much comfort food to keep the cold away, then now is the perfect time to get into a daily walking habit. Walking is the oldest and probably easiest form of human physical activity there is. Of course, even if you progress to more ambitious types of activity, walking is a great place to start if you’re new to exercising or simply lacking motivation to be more active. And when you can add in that walking is (a) super convenient (b) doesn’t wear down joints yet still burns calories and (c) gets your metabolism revved up while helping to prevent dozens of different diseases, what have you got to lose? Of course if you have a dog, then walking him or her comes with its own set of benefits...
What are those 6 health benefits of walking?
1. Helps you maintain a healthy weight Just walking at a fast or brisk pace does use up plenty of energy and can help with weight loss. But the big plus about walking is that it does not deplete your energy levels, enabling you to carry on with your regular day straight afterwards.
2. Low-impact and easy on joints
Walking is probably the safest form of exercise there is - even for the obese, the elderly or those with existing medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis that might stop them from participating in other activities. The good news is that regular walking actually supports your joints by improving circulation and helping the lymphatic system do its job by detoxing and lowering inflammation. Those suffering from arthritis
will benefit because, although joint cartilage has no direct blood supply, the more you move, the more your synovial joint fluid circulates allowing oxygen and nutrients to be carried to the affected areas. The Arthritis Foundation
says that staying inactive
is one of the primary reasons for aching and discomfort. Just remember to stretch, rest enough and start slowly when taking up exercise.
3. Good for improving and preserving heart health Studies show that walking briskly for about 30 minutes a day, five days a week is associated with a 19% reduction in coronary heart disease risk. The harder you work while walking (plus the more you do), the richer the rewards.
4. Fights depression and improves your mood All forms of exercise are beneficial as a natural remedy for depression and mood-related problems - they release “feel good” hormones in your brain, including endorphins. Go one step further and walk outdoors whenever possible in bare feet. Another bonus is to get your blood flowing while also soaking up some sun to boost your vitamin D levels - a further source for combating depression. The above, and spending more time in nature, are all super effective and easy ways to feel happier every single day.
5. Supports bone health into older age Walking regularly can help stop the loss of bone mass as someone ages while reducing the risk for fractures or osteoporosis. When you walk, you are fighting gravity and forcing your bones to become stronger.
6. Walking helps to keep the brain sharp
A common goal in walking is aiming to achieve some 10,000 steps per day, (roughly 4 to 5 miles) which accumulates gradually as you go about your normal errands and activities. Normally, a mile takes about 2,000 steps to walk, so you can increase your distance slowly as you move toward a higher step goal.
And walking is associated with a decrease in Alzheimer's
, dementia, memory loss and other forms of mental decline.