Good news for people who don’t like to work out. You’re doing it every time you walk. No one thinks of this aerobic activity as exercise. After all more than 7 billion people do it daily and it’s not that hard. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.
Walking daily actually has more health benefits than sporadic heavy exercising. It not only helps you feel good, it will help you look good. Exercise does not have to be harsh and difficult. A simple brisk walk every day can greatly improve your health.
Here's 10 of our favorite things walking 30 minutes a day can do:
1. Walking Can Trim Your Waistline
This one may seem obvious, but consistent brisk walking closely rivals running for weight and inches loss. Karin Pfeiffer, Ph.D., a kinesiology professor at Michigan State University says the average person can definitely lose weight by walking if they also eat a healthy diet.
People often write off walking as a “legit” form of exercise because they don't think that a simple thing that's easy can yield real results, especially for weight loss, but small things done consistently yield big results.
2. Reduce Arthritis Pain
Walking for 30-60 minutes daily can give you the best arthritis pain relief naturally. You might think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, but that's simply not the case. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff.
That's because keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, which creates more stress on your joints.
3. Improve Your Mood
Exercise, such as walking, can play a major role in your overall mood because it boosts endorphins, or “feel‐good” chemicals in the brain. The term runner's high refers to this process too — a boost in these endorphins after exercise, which essentially provides you with a feeling of euphoria.
Walking may actually help lift your mood more than running. Research found that walkers reported feeling better than their running counterparts not only after exercise, but during exercise too. And this lift in mood isn’t short‐lived. Just 20 minutes of moderately intense exercise, such as brisk walking, has been found to be enough to provide your body with increased energy and improved mental attitude for as long as 12 hours.
4. Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Walking, and consistent exercise in general, are excellent tools for controlling Type 2 diabetes and improving health for people with diabetes. Brisk walking helps maintain a steady blood sugar level and body weight if you have Type 2 diabetes. Taking a 30-minute walk at least five days per week is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association.
5. Improve Your Balance and Coordination
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a publication from Harvard Medical School, the sense of balance typically worsens with age. It can be further compromised by certain medical conditions and medications, uncorrected vision problems, or a lack of flexibility. Poor balance often leads to falls, which can cause head injuries and other disabling injuries.
Walking helps build lower-body strength, an important element of good balance. Walking is safe exercise for most people and, in addition to improving balance, counts toward your aerobic activity goals.
If you aren't in the habit of exercising, start at the beginning. If you normally use a cane or walker, be sure to do so. As you feel stronger and more comfortable, gradually add more minutes to your walks.
6. Strengthen Your Bones
The three primary pillars of bone health have always been a calcium-rich diet, vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise. Walking has always been considered a great option for a weight-bearing exercise.
With just a few tweaks to your regular jaunts, you can gain even more protection from osteoporosis and fractures, says Karen Friel, chair of New York Institute of Technology school of health professions department of physical therapy. "While walking is inherently good for your bones, adding more load to bones stresses them, and they respond by building more cells," she says.
7. Increase Your Lifespan
Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in south London, said for the average person in their 50s and 60s, moderate exercise reduced the risk of dying from a heart attack by half.
“This study is very relevant. It suggests that when people exercise regularly they may be able to retard the process of ageing,” he said. “We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our 90s.
Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an anti-depressant, it improves cognitive function and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”
8. Reduce Stress
Your afternoon stroll can have significant stress-relieving benefits according to numerous studies. With the arrival of spring, now is the perfect time to get active and healthy by jump-starting a new walking routine. You don't need to run for miles to enjoy the stress-busting benefits of exercise -- moderate-paced walking can reduce tension and anxiety.
Whether it's a stroll in the park with friends or a brisk power-walk around the neighborhood, make walking a part of your daily routine to reduce tension and promote feelings of calm.
Why not take Fido? Simply being around pets has stress relieving benefits. Bonding with a pet may trigger the secretion of oxytocin (also known as the "trust" or "cuddle" hormone), which reduces the stress hormone cortisol. We already know exercise can help reduce stress, and walking your dog is a double whammy against tension and anxiety.
9. It Boosts Your Immune System
Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
10. It Gives You Time to Think
Walking gets you outdoors and gives you time to think. You can unplug from your cell phone, TVs, computers and other distractions. You have time to think through the activities of the day, problems you needed solutions for, etc.
Many people take a walk just to get away from everything so they can think and chill out. When you are walking, your mind can get quiet, so answers to problems have a chance to come into view.
If you’re resolving conflict sitting down and find yourselves stuck, get up and go for a walk. Do it alone if you must, but go for a walk together if you can. You don’t even have to talk if you’re too tense…just walk.
How to Get Started
To get started walking, all you’ll need is a pair of good walking shoes. Choose a walking route near your home. Or look for a scenic place to walk in your area, such as a trail, park or on the beach.
Consider recruiting a friend to walk with you. It will help hold you accountable. Alternatively, you can add walking into your daily routine.
Here are some ideas:
- If you commute, get off your bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way to work.
- Park farther away from your office than usual and walk to and from your car.
- Consider walking instead of driving when you run errands. You can complete your tasks and fit in exercise at the same time.