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10 Health Benefits of Walking

We love running, and we’re big fans of walking, too! It is the best way to consistently maintain your overall health, and an activity we are born to do. Before babies become toddlers, they’re hitting the pavement, getting joy from that which comes naturally to them. As we become adults, too often we get crushed down from the daily grind, no longer finding joy in simple movement.

Walking is one of the best ways to stay both physically and mentally fit.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be vigorous to be of benefit. Even just 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your physical and mental health.  More is always better, but a little is better than nothing! Incorporating walking into your daily routine is the best way to ensure you do it consistently. Whether that means walking to work or taking your dog out at the same time every day, people who find a routine that works for them are more likely to stick with it and experience health benefits from walking.

Improvements in cardiovascular functioning, weight loss, boosted metabolism, and many other physical improvements are often noted with ongoing regular exercise. Aside from the physical, psychological and mental health benefits come hand-in-hand with regular exercise, and are some of the health benefits of walking. Study after study has shown that regular exercise lowers anxiety, depression and stress and improves well-being and self-esteem. After upping the anti on your physical activity, many people report other cognitive benefits, including improved attention span, increased concentration and better problem solving abilities.

People who walk regularly experience a ton of overall health benefits. Health benefits from walking include:
  1. Elevate your mood. Whether you’re feeling down or just want a boost, as little as 15 minutes of walking can help you achieve just that. If you can take your walk outdoors, you’ll amplify the results you get. Some studies have even shown that the mood elevation effects felt from a half hour walk or more can last longer than antidepressant medication.
  2. Creativity. Researchers at Stanford University conducted a study that showed that people did better at idea generation while walking than sitting. These effects also lasted post-walk—people who sat after walking did better than those who sat the whole time. So, if you’re experiencing writer’s block, stuck on a problem or in need of creative inspiration, get walking!
  3. Improves heart health. Walking helps to reduce the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases. One of the many health benefits of walking, improved heart health id one of the biggest pluses.
  4. Stave off dementia and memory loss. If walking were a drug, it would be prescribed all the time! In his book “The Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain By Moving Your Body,” Dr. Anders Hansen says a daily walk has been found to cut the risk of dementia by 40% This is one of the most under-reported and shocking health benefits of walking!
  5. Weight loss. Walking isn’t the fastest path to weight loss, though it may be one of the most achievable ways to consistently stay active. The Mayo Clinic says that if you add 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine, you could burn about 150 more calories a day. To put that in context, to lose a pound a week, you generally need to eliminate 500 calories a day.
  6. Lower blood pressure. Research has shown that walking for at least 60 minutes every day helps to keep your blood pressure levels in check.
  7. Enhance concentration and focus. Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” says that exercise improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards, and this includes walking!
  8. Live longer. A study conducted with 17,000 Harvard graduates showed that students who walked for at least 30 minutes every day lived longer than those who were sedentary. But you didn’t need a study to tell you that, did you?
  9. Strengthen your bones. Walking is a great low-impact exercise that prevents loss of bone density. In turn, this helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, fractures and injuries.
  10. Helps with digestion. Walking can help get your gut into gear and speed up your rate of digestion. Walk for 15 minutes or more after a meal to help your body digest your meal faster.

Wearing a pedometer or tracking your progress through a fitness app can help you track how many steps and how much physical activity you actually get each day. Aim for 10,000 steps a day to start feeling results right away. If you want to see what health benefits from walking that you experience, consider keeping a journal or notes in an app can also be helpful.

Whether you decide to keep precise track of your steps or not, we’re sure that if you incorporate walking into your daily routine, you’ll note many health benefits—quickly!

Tara
Tara loves to share her passion for running through the stories of Brainsport Times.
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