Walking is one of the most underrated ways to get in shape and improve overall health. It’s perfect for anyone – seniors, the obese, injured folks and even fit people. And it’s easy to do since you don’t need lots of willpower or motivation to walk.
But most of us don’t experience the benefits of walking because of our lifestyles. You probably don’t walk to work, to the shopping mall, or even take the stairs. You see, walking doesn’t always have to be a deliberate exercise. Making a few lifestyle changes can help you walk more.
Even those who do bodyweight training can benefit from walking. Personally, I walk for at least 30 minutes every evening. And you should too. Here are 20 amazing benefits you’ll experience once you start walking every day.
1. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone problem that affects senior citizens because their bone mass becomes small as they age. The decline in bone structure and reduced quality of bone tissue as you grow older can trigger osteoporosis. Studies have found that walking for just 15 minutes per day can help prevent osteoporosis as you age.
Walking outside will allow you to get vitamin D from sunlight. As you may know, vitamin D strengthens the bones and may reduce risk of osteoporosis.
2. Promotes a Healthy Heart
Research shows that walking can lower risk of heart related conditions as much as running can. Researchers found that walking can lower risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which consequently promote a healthy heart.
Since the heart is a muscle, walking will force it to work harder to pump blood, and this will make it stronger.
3. It Keeps You Fit
Walking can improve your fitness especially if you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle. For obese and overweight folks, walking opens the door to more challenging exercises like jumping jacks and jumping rope.
But you need to combine it with bodyweight exercises or weights to strengthen the core and increase muscle mass. I may also note that walking will undo the harmful effects of sitting all day.
The average person walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, so track your steps with a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps a day.
4. Improves the Respiratory System
Just like other exercises balance breathing, walking short distances daily improves your respiratory system. Walking every day improves the respiratory system by making it smoother and stronger.
The pace you walk at is also important. Walking faster will benefit your respiratory system more.
5. Reduces Body Fat Modestly
Walking may not get you shredded but it can help you shed fat slowly and steadily if combined with proper nutrition. You can burn up to 500 calories if you walk 10,000 steps at a moderate-fast pace.
In fact, walking burns a lot of fat and little to no muscle. Which means you will quickly lower your body fat percentage.
6. It Enhances Glycemic Control
Walking for 15 minutes every day after meals improves and balances your blood glucose levels (especially in seniors with a declining glucose tolerance). It is important to keep your walking habit as close to meals as possible so as to support effective weight loss.
7. It Balances Triglyceride Levels
Walking for 30 minutes each day can balance your triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are fats found in the blood. After eating, the body converts the calories that are not needed into triglycerides. Having very high levels of triglycerides in your blood increases your risk of developing heart disease.
8. It Extends your Lifespan if Done Briskly
One recent study that examined 31000 female and 7000 male recreational walkers concluded that our walking intensity predicts our mortality rate. The workers who walk the fastest seem to die the least according to the study.
Note that this isn’t an interventional study, it just explored the relationship between the natural walking speed and risk of mortality.
9. Great for People with Arthritis
Arthritis patients find it difficult to exercise because of pain. But since walking is the easiest form of exercise, it is ideal for arthritis patients. Walking slowly on flat ground can reduce pain.
One study found that walking helps to balance body function in people with arthritis.
10. Improves Brain Function
Walking every day provides extensive cognitive benefits, including enhancing memory in seniors, and improving cognitive control as well as academic performance in young people or preadolescents.
It also helps to boost creativity in young and healthy people. The farther an older individual walks in just six minutes, the better they are able to perform in memory and logic tests.
11. Walking Daily Reduces Stress
When I want to move on from a stressful day, I go for a walk. And it’s most rewarding when I walk around nature. It can be the beach, hills, woods or even the park. If you’re feeling stressed, take a walk today – you’ll feel much better afterwards.
Walking also doesn’t add training stress like excessive cardio or strength training. You can walk a lot and not worry about overtraining.
12. Walking Gives you an Opportunity to Think
Walking has psychological benefits because when we walk we think. And this can greatly benefit you especially if you walk in a quiet environment. You will be able to work through problems and come up with fresh ideas. You will also be able to replay conversations easily, scheme, ruminate, and find solutions.
13. It Strengthens the Bones
Walking helps strengthen the bones and reduces your risk of fractures. One recent study found that women who were able to walk a minimum of 4 hours weekly saw a 40 percent reduction in the risk of suffering hip fractures. Note that strength training is more effective at maintaining strong and healthy bones.
14. It Improves Your Mood
If you are having a rough day, it is an excellent idea to go for a walk. A number of studies have shown that walking every day effectively improves the mood and significantly decreases stress levels.
Walking can actually get you motivated to work or exercise. If you’re feeling lazy to exercise, take a 20-minute walk to get in workout mode.
15. Enhances Blood Circulation
Walking daily or engaging in any form of physical activity is great for the circulatory system. It improves blood circulation by helping balance blood pressure levels, thereby reducing the risk of developing stroke. Walking at least 30 minutes a day combined with good eating habits can eliminate circulation problems.
16. Reduces the Risk of Falling With Age
Walking on a regular basis or daily can help prevent trips and falls that occur as we age. Loss of balance and weakened muscles due to aging can put you at greater risk of falling or tripping.
Walking every day will improve your body balance by strengthening your lower body and increasing stability.
17. Makes It Easier To Reach Your Goals
Walking every day will help you build discipline which can be applied in other aspects of life. Other benefits of walking like better brain function and lower risk of diseases will also make it easier to reach your goals.
Don’t walk aimlessly, set walking goals and reward yourself when you attain them. This will boost your confidence and motivate to achieve more.
18. It Helps Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Besides helping to prevent heart disease, studies have found that walking for one hour every day helps lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Walking helps the muscles work properly so that they can absorb glucose. According to one study, an hour of walking on a daily basis can decrease the effects of type 2 diabetes by 30 percent.
19. Helps with Insomnia or Sleep Problems
Based on a research published in Seattle for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, when insomnia patients walk for 45 minutes daily, especially in the morning hours, they are more likely to sleep better or effectively treat their Insomnia.
20. Helps Control Cholesterol Levels
The body requires a specific amount of cholesterol for optimal health and development of cell membranes. There is a risk of developing heart problems when you have excessive amounts of blood lipids or bad cholesterol (especially the LDLs). On the other hand, lower amounts of HDLs (good cholesterol) can be harmful.
Walking every day is an excellent way to ensure that your cholesterol levels are well regulated.
Walking every day doesn’t require a lot of commitment. Just start with 10-minute walks and slowly increase the duration and pace. Simple things like taking the stairs, parking far from the office and lunch-break walks can increase your steps.
Once you make walking a habit it’ll be easier to perform other exercises.
Which benefits have you experienced from walking every day?