Walking is one of the most underrated physical activities. It’s inexpensive, easy to do anywhere, and has been shown to have a positive impact on both mental and physical health. Plus, it’s an excuse to buy some cute new workout clothes.
Here are a few benefits you might not know about:
When you walk, your body’s muscles need oxygen. To get that oxygen to those cells, the heart needs to pump more blood and then do it again as the muscle relaxes. This increased flow of blood throughout the body is great for circulation! Walking can ward off cardiovascular disease, low blood pressure, lower your heart rate and reduce the risk of strokes in women. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who walk 30 minutes a day can improve their stroke risk by 20-40%.
Boosts Your Mood
Walking can help your mood as it boosts energy and releases hormones that make us feel good. The brain also benefits from a little workout because the synapses fire more often to send messages between neurons which helps improve memory recall and decision-making. Walking releases natural painkillers to the body and has emotional benefits.
Helps You Sleep Better
Another benefit of walking is that it can help you sleep at night. In a recent study, participants who walked for just 30 minutes each day were able to get 40% more deep REM sleep than those who did not walk at all. Walking also relieves stress and anxiety, which is especially helpful if you have trouble sleeping or are prone to depression.
Strengthens Your Bones
Walking is a low-impact activity that helps keep your bones strong. A recent article in Forbes covers how walking can fight osteoporosis for post-menopausal women. One study found that thirty minutes of daily walking reduced the risk of hip fractures for these women by 40%.
Slows Down Mental Decline
Walking also helps fight the effects of aging by stimulating brain cells and keeping your mind sharp! A study of 6,000 women ages 65 and older performed by University of California San Francisco researchers found that those who walk 2.5 miles per day have a 17% memory decline compared to an average 25% decline in their counterparts walking less than 1 mile per week.
Strengthens Your Muscles
Walking is a full-body workout. Not only does it tone your leg and abdominal muscles, but your arm muscles as well if you pump them while you walk. This in turn increases your range of motion by shifting the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles.
Helps You Live Longer
Research finds as people get older, those who exercise regularly are more likely to live longer than their peers. A study of over 600,000 people that was published in the Journal of Prevention Medicine and Public Health found that those who walk briskly for 30 minutes on five days per week had a 60% lower risk of death at any point during their lifespan than non-walkers.
We’ve talked about the many benefits of walking, but it turns out that a lot of these reasons are just icing on the cake. The main reason we love to walk is because there’s nothing better than getting outside and enjoying nature with some fresh air. It doesn’t matter if your goal is weight loss or stress relief – all you need to do is lace up those sneakers! So put down that phone and get moving! You deserve this time for yourself.