What are the benefits of walking for exercise? They are probably too numerous to mention all of them! Walking helps keep our body fit, some diseases at bay, and helps us keep a happy, healthy, outlook on life.
All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes and a walking stick, if you like! If you have 30 minutes a day, you are set for a healthy routine. And just think, it does not require a gym membership!
In this blog, I would like to touch on these benefits of walking; and add some tips to physical, mental and social well-being as we enjoy this active lifestyle.
In the 5 Blue Zones that Dan Buettner and his colleagues found around the world, there were several things they all had in common. Beside a simple diet, they all spent time walking.
Perhaps you remember hearing about the Blue Zones where many of the people in those communities lived long, productive lives well into their 80s, 90s and beyond.
Builds Muscle Endurance
Walking over a variety of terrain can be a good workout. It cannot necessarily be compared to running. Running may be more physically demanding, but more people are able to walk than those who are able to run.
Those with knee injuries, ankle or back problems, find it difficult to pound the pavement. Walking is a lower impact exercise. It is easier to keep up the exercise of walking for most of your life.
Walking will help your legs look leaner and more toned by decreasing the fat levels.
Walking will train your muscles
to work more efficiently. You can build up your endurance the longer you walk. Try to get your 10,000 steps in a day. Some people who have time and stamina can do much more.
It depends in part to the intensity you do your workout. Walking at a moderately intense pace will build your fitness levels better than a leisurely stroll.
Your legs will get stronger as you have a regular, intense walking routine. Add some variation to your walking speed and intensity. Walking uphill and varying walking speed are all good ways to increase the calories you burn. It also targets more muscles in your lower limbs.
Maintains Strong Bones
such as lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing body-weight exercises puts more resistance on your bones. Muscle strengthening exercises help build strong bones as well.
You need to increase the load on your bones. Brisk walking, or jogging, at interval speeds of normal speed to a brisk speed stress your bones in a good way.
Walking Burns Belly Fat
Visceral fat, or belly fat as it is sometimes called, is around our middle. It shows itself by a protruding belly and a large waistline.
Brisk walking of 45 minutes or more is especially effective for burning belly fat, also known as visceral fat.
The reason it is so important to reduce visceral fat is because it lodges around our organs and contributes to risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Walking tones the muscles in your abs, glutes, and legs. If you have a calorie deficit as well, you should be able to lose your belly fat as you exercise by walking.
Boosts Your Energy Levels
When you are tired and want to take an afternoon rest, perhaps it would be just as helpful to go for a walk.
Walking increases your respiration, which increases the oxygen flow to your body.
It increases hormones in your body, which elevate your energy levels. So, you won’t need that nap or that cup of coffee!
The Benefits of Walking for Exercise
It Boosts Your Immunity
One study showed that people who are physically fit and active have a healthier immune system.
Another study tracked 1,000 People. They walked at a moderate pace for 35 to 40 minutes a day. Overall, forty-three percent of them had fewer sick days and less upper respiratory tract infections. If they did get the flu, they did not get as severe symptoms as the more sedentary people.
May Help Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
Taking a walk after each meal may lower your blood sugar level.
Exercise lowers blood sugar. For the best health benefits, experts recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense physical activities.
If you are a diabetic taking insulin, you must monitor and adjust your insulin with the exercise that you do.
And remember to always check with your physician or healthcare provider before adding anything new to your diet or exercise.
Walking and Hypertension
Studies have been done to see how blood pressure responds to brisk walking.
People with busy lifestyles will find that a series of 3 ten-minute walking sessions throughout the day, will do you as much good as if it were done all at once.
If Blood Pressure is not managed well, you may be at a 4 – 6 times higher risk getting a stroke. See your doctor to have your blood pressure checked and controlled as necessary.
A Korean study and a US study both found the cardiovascular benefits of walking.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of cure!”
You want to keep plaque out of your veins, keep them clean and your heart muscle strong. The better shape your veins are in the easier it is for your body to function at peak performance.
One way you can do that is to eat a healthy plant-based diet and make sure you are not sitting more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. Get up and walk around if you are sitting behind a desk.
Make time to get some fresh air and go take a walk, whether it is at a lunch break or before or after work.
Walking is a great way to do that. Go for a hike, travel on various terrain. Up hill and down adds to a better workout. It puts stress on the body to help it rejuvenate itself.
Mental Benefits of Walking
Just as you want clear, clean veins to pump life-giving blood and oxygen through the body, so you need a clean, clear brain to keep you thinking and working well.
Four experiments were done in one study
. They compared people who came up with creative, original ideas. Some of them were sitting at their desk, some on a treadmill, some sitting outside, and some were walking outside. Those walking outside led to the highest quality, novel and creative ideas of the 4 groups.
They improved their memory, they were jovial, invigorated, attentive and self-confident.
Walking 3 days a week, for 30 minutes a day, or 10 minutes 3 times a day, boosts your self-esteem and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Walking in nature was found to reduce negative recall which would lead to depression. Just get outdoors and walk!
15 Ways to Get More Steps into Your Day
- Take the stairs
- Walk the dog
- Make it a family outing
- Include the children or grandchildren
- Create a walking group
- Walk with neighbors and friends
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Carry a water bottle. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
- Get a treadmill to use when you can’t get outside
- Do yard work
- Go window shopping
- Walk in place during the commercials
- Go on a walking date
- Take a stroll around town
- Park farther away from your destination
A Healthier Lifestyle
Go wherever your feet will go. With the extra exercise you may find you have a healthier outlook on life and a healthier body to go with it.
I belong to a North American group called TOPS which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.
TOPS Club Inc. is a not for profit, non-commercial network of weight-loss support groups throughout the United States and Canada.
TOPS encourage a healthy lifestyle. That encouragement often includes weight loss. Walking is the recommended way of getting exercise, and there are many in the group who have lost 100 or more pounds and have kept it off for many years. Often it started small, by walking.
What is your fitness level right now? Make it your routine to walk every day. Keep active and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Make your exercise into an outing, make it something pleasant to do. If it is something you enjoy, you will be much more likely to continue it as a habit.
The benefits of walking for exercise are numerous. Walking has been shown to help keep your body and mind in good condition so they both will serve you well for many years.
Walking is not a lowly form of exercise, if done consistently. It can take your body to a healthy level of fitness. Keep at the top of your abilities.
Please Leave a Comment
I would love to hear from you. How much time do you put in walking? Do you put in 10,000 steps a day?
Disclaimer: I’m not a physiotherapist or a doctor. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.