Walking is one of the most accessible activities to improve your health that you can get started on today. You don’t need to buy any special equipment, you just need a good pair of shoes! A little walk goes a long way so let’s talk about the immense benefits of walking. The list is really endless! I know you have a pedometer on your phone, you just may not know it – they all come with one. So take a look at your steps and see where you are – do you need to go on a walk today? Chances are, the answer is yes!
Spend Time Outdoors
Yes, you can walk on a treadmill… but if possible, try to walk outdoors. See what your neighborhood has to offer you! You may even discover some new neighbors or a recently opened business on your adventure. Are you a daytime or night time walker? Vitamin D is great for your health, and the sun is a great source of that necessary vitamin. However, sometimes walking after dark is the only choice that works with our schedule. No matter when you walk, traveling on foot means you aren’t traveling by car – so you’re helping the environment with every step you take!
Improve Heart Health & Brain Function
The American Heart Association calls walking the simplest lifestyle change you could make for your health. In the simplest terms: walking increases your heart rate for a short time to improve circulation and strengthen your heart overall. Studies have shown that when more blood flows through to your brain, memory and brain function improves. Did you know that when you’re sick, you actually need to keep moving to get better? One of the benefits of walking is that it can help you get better quicker. Your cells need movement to function. With that virus going around, sometimes you can get stuck in the trap of resting to get better. Yes, we need rest to get better, but we also need light movement for optimal cell function.
Have you ever heard that sedentary things stay sedentary and things in motion stay in motion? It can be hard to get started, but it’s worth it. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US – and while walking won’t prevent heart disease specifically, it will help you improve heart and brain function.
Boost Your Mood & Lower Stress
No matter what kind of cardio exercise you’re doing, moving your body is essential for regulating your emotions and stress levels making one of the benefits of walking improved mental health. Who’s not searching for a way to improve their mental health these days? We can all use a boost of serotonin. Did you know that the act of walking itself releases endorphins in your brain? Endorphins improve mood and encourage relaxation, leading to lower stress levels and in turn a healthier heart. Decrease mental fatigue and chances of dementia by taking a daily walk. Walking is also free – what could be better for peace of mind than a no-cost activity?
Benefits of Walking for Blood Pressure & Blood Sugar
Stay with me on this one – you might be thinking “this doesn’t apply to me.” But the truth is as we age, we need to pay more attention to our blood pressure and blood sugar. Normal blood sugar and pressure levels are signs of a healthy, well-functioning body. When you take a walk, your blood vessels (the pathways your blood travels through) relax and blood flows more easily, lowering your blood pressure. On the other side of things, the way that walking lowers your blood sugar is simple: when you exercise, your muscles need to use more sugar from your bloodstream. Walking also improves insulin function. You’ll notice these effects immediately after exercising.
Spend Time With Friends or Family
A thoughtful conversation with friends or family is another one of the great benefits of walking. You can even add in the dogs or kids to your walking routine and create a tradition with the entire group. One of my favorite childhood memories is that we would go for a walk around the block after dinner every single night. Talking with friends and family or really just being with them does wonders for your mental health. Have you been meaning to catch up with a friend, but just haven’t had the time? Walking is a great way to get both a workout and a social outing in your schedule. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I have so much trouble scheduling something with our “busy” schedules. My suggestion: go somewhere new and explore some new terrain! Look up your local walking trails to see what’s around you or walk to a local coffee shop nearby.
Walking Benefits for Weight Loss & Improved Gut Health
You don’t need an expensive gym membership to lose weight. Walking is one of the most accessible ways to workout – anyone can do it! Studies show that one of the big benefits of walking is that it can lead to weight loss, but remember to consult with your doctor before starting any weight loss program. Going on a walk activates your digestive system and helps move your food through your body, reducing gas and bloating. No matter whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll or starting on a power walk, you’re improving your health every time you embark on walk.
It’s A Great Excuse To…
Buy cute new workout clothes! Stop by a local business! Drink your daily coffee! If you’re walking alone… spend some time reflecting on your life! Listen to a podcast or audiobook you’ve been waiting for!
The benefits of walking are unmatched. Anyone and everyone can benefit from consistent walks. It’s a perfect metaphor for life… we just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Learn 6 more free things that you can do to boost your health here