What are the benefits of walking?
Are you looking to lose weight, normalize your blood pressure, improve your brain function, be happier and live longer?
What if I told you all this and more could be yours for the low price of 30 minutes a day?
Oh, and the best part? This activity is free, easy to do, and you don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships…
Walking. Seriously. That’s it.
Simply going for a brisk, 30 minute walk every day will transform your health and improve your quality of life… No push-ups, no crunches, no hill sprints, just getting out and moving your body by walking.
Whether you are old or young, fit or unhealthy, overweight or not, adding in this simple habit has been shown to cause a whole bunch of benefits both physical and mental.
WHY WALKING IS SO GOOD FOR YOU
The short story: Walking is deeply embedded in our genetic code. Well before us ‘modern’ humans (homo sapiens) came about, our ancestors were upright walking – as early as 3.7 million years ago!
In fact, you could make a strong argument that the humble walk and our ability to do it over long distances was fundamental to our survival as a species!
Fortunately, today, most of us don’t need to walk in order to survive… There are far more efficient ways to get from point A -> B and in our modern-day, time-poor lives. I totally understand why most of us choose to hop in the car instead of using our own two feet.
BUT… When we think of walking as merely a last-resort option for transportation, we completely miss the point. Because we’ve been walking for such a long time, our bodies and brains have become adapted to lots of walking.
In other words – Regular walking is a requirement for health. And just like any other fundamental requirement (like drinking water or getting adequate sleep), if we consistently fail to satisfy that requirement, our health suffers.
Not convinced? Here are 6 science-backed benefits of walking!
WALKING HELPS WITH BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL AND WEIGHT LOSS
With obesity and diabetes alone being two of the most common chronic health problems, finding simple solutions that almost anyone can put into practice is essential. Brisk walking has been shown to normalize your blood sugar and in combination with dietary changes can have a significant impact on your waistline!
WALKING IMPROVES YOUR HEART
It goes without saying that regular exercise of any kind, including walking, benefits your cardiovascular system. Even walking at a moderate pace (enough to raise your heart rate, but you can still have a conversation) is enough to elicit positive changes in circulation, heart rate, blood pressure and VO2 max (the efficiency of your oxygen use, a common measure of cardiovascular fitness).
WALKING BOOSTS YOUR BRAIN FUNCTION
Want to get your brain firing on all cylinders? Research shows that regular walks can improve memory, especially in older men and can improve test scores and academic achievement in adolescents. Not to mention a brisk walk 5x/wk appears to have a very powerful anti-aging effect on the brain tissue with subjects showing significant less neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimers and dementia.
Want to amplify these effects? Go for a walk in nature!
WALKING (ESPECIALLY IN NATURE) MAKES YOU HAPPIER
Regular walking can create a long-term change in your mood and psychological well-being too. A hallmark study found that the subjects in the exercise group felt less anxious and showed less physical signs of anxiety, experienced less tension, less depression and fatigue, and more energy than the non-walking group.
Once again, walking in nature seems to have some significant additional benefits… In this cool study, walking in a rural area compared with urban area improved overall mood and participants reported an overall mentally restorative experience when compared to walking in an urban area.
WALKING BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNITY
Who wants a stronger immune system?? I do I do! Well, it turns out walking 30 minutes a day causes a significant boost in specific immune cells circulating in your bloodstream. Not to mention all the indirect effects on your immune system: better circulation, improved lymphatic drainage, and a reduced stress response all directly impact your immune system function.
WALKING HELPS YOU LIVE LONGER
Last, but certainly not least is the story of longevity… Although difficult to measure, populations who walk regularly tend to live longer and have fewer chronic health problems. In a recent large-scale study that specifically those who did a brisk walk daily had significant reductions in all-cause mortality.
UP FOR A CHALLENGE?
For the month of April, commit to walking for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. If you are already getting your 30 minutes, add an additional 30 minutes or throw in some short, intermittent fast walking and change up your pace!
Remember, your body is designed to walk… A lot. Work to satisfy that requirement and you WILL be rewarded!