Walking is the simplest form of exercise you can do. At the same time, it’s the most underrated one. Many people think about exercise only as structured classes and training. Oftentimes, those same people drive wherever they go – to the shop, gym, and work, even if it’s only a short walk away.
But walking is a core activity for humans, and it can improve both our mental and physical health. If you need motivation and good reasons to start walking more, here are the top benefits of walking.
Your Health Will Improve
Activity is crucial for our health, but it doesn’t need to be vigorous, hard, and exhausting. Even low-impact exercises like walking improves our physical health. You will have the biggest benefit if you walk at least 30 minutes per day – and it doesn’t all have to be in the same session.
Walking only 30 minutes per day increases your cardiovascular fitness and reduces the chance of heart disease and stroke. It strengthens your bones and slows down bone loss in those with osteoporosis. It protects joints and reduces joint pain by lubricating the muscles that support them. Finally, it helps balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels and boosts immune function.
You Will Feel Better
Walking can reduce mental health issues, in many ways. It increases levels of cortisol and other hormones that impact your energy levels, and also boosts oxygen flow in your body. As a result, you will feel energized and ready to tackle anything the day brings.
Walking may also reduce anxiety, depression, and bad mood. If you have been socially distanced, walking can help you feel less lonely and boosts your self-esteem. It slows down memory decline and reduces the chance of Alzheimer’s disease. Surprisingly, walking also boosts creative thinking. Studies have shown people think up many more ideas when walking than sitting.
You Will Lose Weight and Be Stronger
Like any physical activity, walking burns calories. The exact calorie loss will depend on your speed, weight, terrain, and distance you’ve walked. It also reduces the effects of weight-promoting genes and helps curb cravings that are a result of stress or other negative emotions. Walking strengthens your legs, which is both a functional and aesthetic benefit. It works on abdominal muscles too, and even arms if you move them or practice Nordic walking.
You Will Sleep Better
Walking will improve your sleep quality. That means it will be easier to fall asleep, and your sleep will be deeper. Additionally, it will improve your sleep patterns. That is especially true if you pair walking with your morning and/or bedtime routine. Bad quality sleep is related to a variety of mental and physical ailments. Walking can help you fight insomnia and reduce the chance of many physical and mental issues.
You Will Live Longer
Not only does walking improve your physical and mental health, it also reduces your chance of an early death. Research has found that walking at any pace extends your life. That’s particularly true if you’re maintaining a fast pace. Brisk walking has more benefits than walking at a slow speed. Try to walk at the greatest speed which allows you to still be able to breathe normally. You can also change speed in intervals, and build up distance and pace as your body adapts.
All in all, walking is a great addition to the exercise you already do and a good standalone activity too. Whether you’re walking alone and daydreaming, have a walking buddy, walk your dog or use walking to run your daily errands – any type of walking will make you healthier, happier, and more confident.