Walking may seem like a simple activity but it has many great benefits for your health and overall fitness. According to Greater Mercer TMA, walking 6,000 steps a day can help improve your health, and walking 10,000 steps is a great way to reduce weight.
When you walk, you don’t just burn calories but also improve your overall health. In this article, we will talk about the top 10 benefits of walking every day.
- Improved circulation
- Lose weight
- Improved mood
- Strengthen muscles
- Improved sleep
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases
- Improved joint pain
- Live a longer life
- Improved memory
- Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Developing a habit of walking every day will be one of the best things you can do for your body. Walking doesn’t require a gym membership or strenuous exercise. All you need to do is throw on your activewear and get walking.
The more moving we do each day, the more likely we are to stay healthy into old age. Walking is one of the easiest and best ways to move our bodies. We can walk at a normal pace and still receive benefits. Walking faster can help even more by improving heart strength and blood flow.
If you like to walk outside, we’re alike. I go outside each week and walk for about an hour or more. Other times I do running, biking, or hiking. For me, being out in nature has a lot of benefits as well. Let’s look at the benefits we all can receive by walking each day.
1. Walking Improves Circulation
Walking gets your blood pumping through your body. When you are on your feet, the blood circulation improves which wards off heart diseases, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular diseases.
According to Dr. Vasileios-Arsenios Lioutas, a neurologist at one of the Harvard-affiliated Medical Centers walking is just like medicine, it helps your blood vessels and your brain to function better and prevents stroke.
30 minutes a day and five days per week of brisk walking can help reduce the risk of stroke.
2. Walking Burns Calories – Lose Weight
Walking is one of the best ways to lose weight. Walking every day increases your metabolism and prevents you from getting tired easily. A 30 – 90 minute walk can burn as many as 200 calories.
When you are walking it is important that your heart rate is up and fast. Walking or pacing slowly won’t help with burning calories. You have to get your heart pumping fast to see the results. A moderate-intensity walk where you can hear your breathing and can feel your legs getting tired is the right way to go.
When you are in a 50% to 70% percent range of heart rate, 85% of your calories will burn fat. Remember to walk at least 5 days per week to see results.
3. Walking Improves Mood
We all understand the physical benefits of walking and exercise, however, one of the major advantages of walking includes improved mental health. Brisk walking every day helps elevate stress-reducing endorphins. Regular walking alleviates depression, anxiety, and stress.
According to research at the University of Michigan Health System, group walks in parks are linked to lower depression and improved overall well-being. Study listed people who had experienced recent trauma in their life. The group walk helped boost the mood and decreased stress levels in those individuals.
4. Walking Strengthens Muscles
Sitting all day leads to muscle atrophy which is the weakening of your muscles. When you make walking your habit, the blood circulation improves and prevents muscle loss. Your leg, arm, and abdominal muscles become tight and toned with walking.
When you walk a lot of your muscles are in action. Your upper and lower leg muscles, along with the hip flexors work simultaneously to provide stability, control, and movement while walking.
5. Walking Improves Sleep
According to a study published in the Sleep Research Society, light and moderate-intensity physical activity are associated with better sleep quality in postmenopausal women.
Walking boosts sleep hormones (melatonin) which help you sleep better at night. Walking and moderate exercise also helps people who suffer from insomnia fall asleep quicker.
6. Walking Reduces the Risk of Chronic Diseases
According to the CDC, regular physical activity prevents chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It also improves your overall health, fitness, and quality of life.
30 minutes of walking can effectively lower your sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes. Sitting around all day raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, while walking lowers glucose and insulin resistance.
American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day to prevent heart disease and cancer.
7. Less Joint Pain By Walking
Low-impact exercises like walking help increase blood flow to joint cartilage. Brisk movement provides lubrication to joints which decreases joint pain and stiffness.
Walking is a great way to help relieve arthritis pain and swelling. If you have joint issues, avoid walking on hard surfaces.
8. Live a Longer Life by Walking
Who does not want to live a long fulfilling life? We all do, however, many of us are not ready to put in the efforts that will help us live for a longer period of time. Walking is a great way to ensure you stay healthy for a lot of years to come.
A JAMA study identified the association between the daily step counts and mortality among US adults. The research study found an association between the greater number of steps and lower all-cause mortality. In other words, those who walked more lived longer.
According to research published at the University of Leicester, the United Kingdom, the life expectancy of people who walked faster was found to be higher compared to slow walkers.
9. Improved Memory By Walking
We live in a world full of distractions and information overload. It is easy to get so engrossed in our daily lives that we can start forgetting things. Thankfully, another benefit of walking includes improved memory.
An interesting study at AARP revealed that a year of walking three times a week can increase the brain size. While our hippocampus shrinks as we age resulting in impaired memory and dementia, aerobic exercise can reverse the effect and improve memory. In the study, the participants walked around a track for 40 minutes a day, three days a week. At the end of the study, the researchers found a 2% increase in their hippocampus size.
10. Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease By Walking
Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the number of Alzheimer’s diseases in America is growing fast. According to 2020 statistics, 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia.
A study presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) showed that walking five miles per week created resistance against Alzheimer’s disease. The findings depicted greater brain volume in the individuals who performed greater amounts of physical activity.
Keeping active is an essential part of staying healthy. We enjoy the benefits that come as we move our bodies and get the blood pumping to our joints, muscles, organs, and brain. The more we walk, the more likely we are to get more benefits.
Although it may take time for some of these benefits to start to manifest, they will enhance your life in measurable ways. You will be able to enjoy a healthier and happier life when you walk each day over the course of 6 months to a year.
Don’t give up after a month. Your body takes time to change, but little by little it is changing. As you make walking a habit you can enjoy all the benefits of walking for the rest of your life.
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