Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health.
Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.
Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking is also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly, or who haven’t exercised in a long time.
Read on find out about the top 7 health benefits of walking daily and get going!
1. Improves Your Overall Mood
A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine learned that women who walked for at least 200 minutes every week felt emotionally better despite their depression diagnosis. Experts tracked these women’s improvements for three years and discovered that while walking made their body healthier, the psychological benefits for someone suffering from depression were even greater.
Depression is projected to become a widespread global disease by 2030, especially in countries where people earn a higher income, as per the World Health Organization. So, it is more important than ever to encourage people to exercise every day.
Even low-intensity walking has tremendous benefits to your mental well-being. When you are outdoors surrounded by trees and nature, you benefit from “forest bathing” where your brain does nothing else but relax.
Even a 20-minute walk in the park, woods or forest lowers the brain’s cortisol levels, which is also known as the stress hormone. Walking clears your mind so you can have better, clearer, and more positive thoughts.
2. Boosts Your Immune System
Your body’s immune system should function properly at all times to prevent infections, diseases, and death. Walking is a great way to boost your immunity.
Walking at least 30 minutes a day can help bolster the activities of the immune cells, namely, the B-cells, T-cells, and the natural killer cells. It helps release the WBC at a faster rate, thereby allowing your body to heal quickly.
3. Strengthens Bones and Joints
According to the National Institutes of Health, weight-bearing exercises like walking force your bones and joints to move against gravity. As a result, you build stronger bones and joints. When your bones and joints are stronger, you reduce your risks of fractures, immobility, and bone mass loss that normally happen when you age.
The Arthritis Foundation also recommends walking regularly if you suffer from joint stiffness and inflammation. Similar to lower back pain, walking promotes better blood circulation in your joints that help reduce discomfort.
4. Increases Vitamin D Production
Walking in the morning is a great opportunity for your body to produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for bone strength and it prevents cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes type 1. So, it is very important that you get at least 10-15 minutes of morning sun exposure, and walking is a great way to do so.
5. Relieves Lower Back Pain
If you are suffering from lower back pain, it won’t be advisable for you to run or do high-impact exercises as these workouts might worsen your condition. But when you regularly walk, you still get the required physical activity. At the same time, you’ll also be able to improve your blood circulation, especially around the spinal structure.
When blood properly flows around your spine, you’ll improve its flexibility. So, you’ll start feeling more relief in your lower back area if you keep a regular walking schedule. In fact, experts from a study in Disability Rehabilitation recommend walking for people with chronic low back pain.
6. Helps With Weight Loss
Walking is a great exercise and helps you lose weight. American scientists designed an experiment where obese patients walked together (a concept known as the ‘walking bus’) to their destinations in and around the city.
After 8 weeks, their weight was checked, and more than 50% of the participants lost an average of 5 pounds (research).
Therefore, it might be a good idea to start walking to and from your nearby destinations, instead of driving your car.
7. Improves Digestion
A group of German researchers stated in a study on Gastrointestinal Liver Disease that walking may speed up how food travels in the stomach to aid with digestion. So, following a heavy meal, you may choose to rest for 20 minutes and then take a stroll around your neighborhood instead of sitting down to watch television.
If you don’t want to take a walk outside, consider pacing on the treadmill but set the machine at a slow setting. You don’t need to do a rigorous walk, move quickly, or burn more energy during this exercise as you might end up with indigestion.
Additionally, a good walk may also ease up your stomach if you’re experiencing constipation. This activity stimulates the muscles in the intestines so that you never have to strain when you need to relieve yourself. You’ll also keep your digestive tract healthier from the reduction of the toxins.