You hear it all the time; you need to move more or be more active. Oh, those dreaded words. Relax that does not mean you need to do hardcore Tabata or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts, nor workout on boring stationary cardio machines to be more active. Did you know that walking for 20-30 minutes a day can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels? That is right; what is not to like about walking? I think walking is the most underrated form of exercise and is one of the most accessible you can do it anywhere and at any time. The best part is it’s FREE (no membership required, no gym equipment you need to purchase), easy on joints, and easy to perform. It is a great way on staying active by all age groups and fitness levels.
Walking is also a tremendous easy form of aerobic exercise you can perform daily. A recent study at the University of Tennessee found that women who walked had less body fat than those who didn’t walk. The study also found that walking also lowers the risk of blood clots, since the calf acts as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart. This also eases varicose veins and swelling in legs. (1)
Here are a few more health benefits that incorporating walking into your daily routine can provide:
1. Improves Your Circulation-Adding walking into your routine can improve your cardiovascular, bring up the heart rate, strengthen your heart, and even lower blood pressure. Research shows that post-menopausal women who walk just one to two miles a day can lower their blood pressure by nearly 11 points in only 24 weeks. According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, women who walk 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20% and by 40% when they step up the pace. (1)
2. Enjoy a Longer Life-Getting outside, and being physically active like walking has shown to improve your health and lifespan. A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that adults between the ages of 70 and 90 who left the house and were physically active lived longer than those who didn’t. A reason to get outside is to enjoy the fresh air and scenery while walking, staying active during the week.
3. Mood Enhancer-Regular exercise, including walking daily releases endorphins (chemicals produced naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress) This is especially important when anxiety is high during a time of uncertainty and undue stress. There is nothing like getting out with nature to make you smile as well. It can also help improve self-esteem and able to get out on being social at a safe distance.
4. Burn Calories-Another great benefit of walking is it can help you burn calories. This is a great way to burn the “pandemic 15”. If you are looking to maintain or reduce weight, performing a brisk 30-minute walk can burn up to 200 calories. (1) You can change things up and burn a little more by walking faster or up hills, even using stairs if you are walking at a park or community.
If you want to know how many steps you have completed, miles, you’ve walked, or active calories you are burning, invest in an activity tracker. Great ones to buy are a FitBit or an IWatch. A cheaper route would be to get an old school pedometer that you can clip on.
5. Energy Booster– Ever notice after an enjoyable workout or great workout, you feel more energized? Going for a walk pumps oxygen through the body. It can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Those are the hormones that help elevate energy levels. So, if you are struggling with energy and feel like you need to grab more coffee or caffeinated drink, maybe try going for a walk instead. (2)
6. Strengthen Muscles & Tone-I know it doesn’t seem like walking does much, but walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles, not to mention that you can even tone your arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. Not only can it tone your lower body, but walking can also strengthen your legs’ muscles. A great way to build more strength in your legs is to walk up hilly areas and even upstairs. If you are using a treadmill, pump the incline higher to help build muscle, and doing this will also make the walk more challenging. Try to find routes with stairs that you can walk up and down to change this up on your routine.
6. Improve your ZZZZ– There have been studies that going on a 1 hour morning walk; you are more likely to help improve your sleep and relieve insomnia. So get those steps in for the day and enjoy a more peaceful night sleeping.
7. Helps joints-Guess what? Walking can help protect your joints, including your knees and hips. Going on a daily stroll can help lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support your joints. Not to mention that there have been studies showing walking might also provide benefits for people living with arthritis, such as reducing pain or prevent arthritis by walking 5 to 6 miles a week. (5)
8. Lower blood sugar -Another great reason to add walking into your daily routine is that taking a short walk after eating may lower your blood sugar.
In the diabetes journal, a small study conducted discovered that taking a 15-minute walk just 3 times a day after meals can improve blood sugar levels more than taking a 45-minute walk at another point during the day. So, if you are limited on time to walk daily, this is a great alternative that provides a great benefit. (3)
9. Boosts immune function -Staying active like walking may reduce your risk for calling in sick, boosting your immune system.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine researched 1,000 adults during the flu season. The study showed that those who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day had 43 percent fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections. (4)
The study also showed that their symptoms were less if they did get sick compared to adults who were not active.
Getting a daily walk outside, inside on a treadmill, out on the beach, inside around the mall, or any way you can help you rep those benefits more.
10. Time to Pause-In a society where our heads of filled with the noise of TODO’s, lists, schedules, work, family, and more. Walking may help you to be able to pause and clear your head. When you walk, you get away from the craziness for a few moments and able to pause from the crazy day. If you are outside, take more time to enjoy the day and scenery. No matter where you are walking, just let those worries, stress, list, or thoughts pass. You may find that you enjoy your time walking more, having time for yourself, and actually feel clearer.
Tips for walking:
- During busy days, walk-in areas designated for pedestrians and always know your surrounding. Make sure the area is well-lit, if possible. If it is not or during times the light is less, make sure to wear a reflective vest or light so cars can see you.
- Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes and shoes for your gait. Pick shoes that have well-cushioned heel and arch support.
- Always make sure you are hydrated by drink plenty of water before and after your walk.
- Protect yourself, wear sunscreen every time you are outside.
- Make sure you have a couple of minutes of a warm-up and cool down before your walk to prevent injuries.
Do you walk daily or a few times a week? Where do you prefer to walk? What is your a must have when you walk?
You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. None of my services shall be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. I cannot and do not provide medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before altering your diet or starting any fitness program