What are the benefits of walking for exercise? They are probably too numerous to mention all of them! Walking helps keep our body fit, keep 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 can start a healthy routine. And just think, it does not even 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 is not necessarily 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.
You can keep your legs lean and toned by walking.
Walking will train your muscles to work more efficiently. You can build up your endurance the longer you walk. Try to get 10,000 steps in a day. Some people who have time and stamina can do much more.
Walking at a moderately intense pace will build your fitness level. A brisk walk is 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 at different speeds are all good ways to increase the calories you burn. It also targets more muscles in your lower limbs.
Maintains Strong Bones
Weight-bearing exercise 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.
As you increase the load on your bones by brisk walking, or jogging, you stress your bones in a good way. This increases your bone density.
To develop strong bones try climbing hills or climbing stairs. This adds an extra weight load to your bones and muscles. Squats, jumps or lunges also work well in developing strong bones.
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 each day is especially effective for burning belly fat – also known as visceral fat.
Visceral fat lodges around our organs and contributes to a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease. This is why it is so important to reduce visceral fat.
Walking tones the muscles in your abs, glutes, and legs. Walking as well as cutting calories in your diet will help you lose belly fat.
Boosts Your Energy Levels
Instead of taking an afternoon rest, perhaps you should 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 extra cup of coffee!
The Benefits of Walking for Exercise
Walking 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 those who were more sedentary.
Helps Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
Taking a walk after each meal helps lower your blood sugar level. You may have heard that 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 will need to monitor your insulin levels as you exercise.
Before beginning a new exercise routine, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is right for you.
Walking and Hypertension
Studies have been done to see how blood pressure responds to brisk walking. Even several ten-minute walking sessions throughout the day, will do you as much good as if it were done all at once.
There is a 4–6 times higher risk of getting a stroke if blood pressure is not managed well. See your doctor to have your blood pressure checked and controlled as necessary.
Korean and US studies both found that walking benefits your cardiovascular system.
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.
Studies show that a plant-based diet is helpful, as well as not sitting for extended periods of 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, up and down hills – that gives you a better workout.
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 had to come 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.
Those who were walking improved their memory, were jovial, 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 thoughts which could 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
- Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated.
- 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 on a walking adventure! With the extra exercise you may find you have a healthier outlook on life and a healthier body to go with it.
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 pounds or more, and have kept it off for many years. Often it started small, by walking.
What is your fitness level right now? Make a routine to walk every day. Keep active and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Make exercise 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 helps keep your body and mind in good condition so they both will serve you well for many years.
Walking can take your body to a healthy level of fitness. If done consistently, it will take you far!
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: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.