We all know that walking is good for us, but what are the benefits?
Let’s talk about 10 reasons why you should be doing more walking.
1) Great For Your Physical Health
There is little doubt about the physical benefits of walking. Walking gets your body moving and gets your blood flowing. Also, walking is a low-intensity workout that can be done conveniently and without any equipment.
Walking is good for your body as when you walk, you are getting exercise, and so you are burning calories. At the same time, you are strengthening your bones and burning fat. You are also giving your body a chance to move. Moving around gives you a chance to stretch out your muscles and joints.
It also helps you feel better about what you have done with your day, as you’ve gotten out a moved around.
On top of this, physical activity and your physical health are related to many conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, getting enough exercise helps prevent diabetes and heart disease.
Walking is a great way to get your body moving; this is especially important when you spend most of your time sitting down. Sitting down, in some ways, is comparable to smoking in the adverse effects it has on your body. For this reason, walking is the perfect antidote and will undoubtedly make a difference if you aren’t already doing it.
Regular walking is excellent for your health, not only does it strengthen your body, but it also helps you keep fit.
On top of this, it helps prevents some of today’s leading causes of death. These benefits are even better, as walking is low intensity and doesn’t do the same damage to your body that other activities can do.
2) Great For Your Brain
Walking is excellent for your brain; however, this isn’t something you might commonly consider. We tend to see walking as a physical activity that is mostly good for our bodies. But then again, the brain is a part of the body, so this makes perfect sense.
Walking helps get the blood flowing, as mention before, but this is especially good for the brain. Proper blood flow helps improve circulation, which brings blood to the brain. Blood flow carries glucose and oxygen to the brain, which helps it function better.
Getting nourishment to the brain is good in that it helps create new neurones, which in turn improves memory.
Also, the creation of neurones strengthens white matter. White matter is the stuff that connects different parts of the brain. In a sense, the improvement of white matter and neurones helps you think faster and more clearly.
There is also research from the University of Illinois which suggests that improved blood flow also improves myelin. Walking and enhanced blood flow is essential for healthy myelin. Issues related to poorly functioning myelin include Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.
One thing to keep in mind with these conditions is that it is especially great to stay active when you are younger.
The activity has all kinds of benefits for you right now. But remember as you get older, the negative consequences of not taking care of your body get worse.
Walking is excellent for your brain for all the same reasons that it is excellent for your physical health.
3) Helps You Lose Weight or Maintain it
Everyone knows that exercise is good for our health. We also know that exercise helps us lose weight. But we might not put two and two together when it comes to walking, because walking seems so causal and non-intensive. However, that isn’t the case, as walking is a great way to help you manage your weight.
If you aren’t getting any exercise at all, walking is a great and easy way to introduce some activity into your life. Walking although it is low intensity is still exercise, and any exercise is better than none.
Walking is especially helpful when you are overweight, as the heavier you are, the more calories you burn while walking.
The intensity of a walk is also important. However, as a general rule of thumb, a 30-minute walk will consume between 90 and 200 calories.
If you aren’t burning any extra calories at all, then walking for 2 hours has the potential to burn 800 calories. Also if you are eating healthy, this will surely help you lose weight.
If you are already maintaining a healthy diet, walking will help you manage your weight more easily.
The scale of the benefits to your health of walking is going to depend on other factors as well. These factors include your current weight, diet and the amount of exercise you get. Regardless, a little bit of walking will go a long way in helping you maintain your weight if you are already eating healthy food.
4) Great For Creativity
Walking is excellent for your body and brain, but did you know it was also great for creativity. For regular walkers, this might not be too surprising. While walking it is common to think of different things that you don’t usually consider.
Walking is excellent for many reasons related to creativity. To start, it gets you out of your environment and forces you to see new things. Seeing new things can trigger memories or inspire new thoughts.
Getting out also exposes you to things you hadn’t seen before or wouldn’t have seen if you stayed at your desk.
You could also say, that while you are walking, you are improving blood flow. For this reason, your brain is getting more oxygen and glucose which will help it function better. A healthy mind is more likely to have strong connections between neurones. These connections will help you come up with new ideas or connections while you are out in the world.
Researchers at Stanford University did an experiment where they asked participants to come up with a list of uses for an item like a shoe. They did this twice, once while the participant were sitting down and another time while they were walking on a treadmill.
What the researchers found, was that the participants came up with much longer lists if they were walking.
An added benefit was that after the walk, the people were still more creative, so the effects of walking seem to last longer than the walk itself.
Overall, walking will help you be more creative, not only while you are walking but even afterwards.
5) Reduces Stress
Walking has many benefits when it comes to reducing stress. Walking will help you handle pressure and will cut down stress when you are stressed out. In many ways, stress is one of the leading causes of death, so a great way to live a better and longer life is to do the best you can to cut down on your stress.
One way that walking helps reduce stress is that it puts you into a sort of meditative state. We may all be aware of the benefits of meditation. However, research suggests that walks can get us into a similar state. For this reason, walking will help you cut down on stress and help you get into a state of flow.
A state of flow is a state of focus and calm, which in itself helps drive away stress.
In addition to the meditative state that walking brings, it is also a great time to get out into nature. Studies have found that walking in nature, a park or forest, etc., is even better for reducing stress. Interestingly, this is still the case if you aren’t enjoying the walk or if it is too cold. The underlying idea is that walks help reduce stress, improve focus and memory.
Another reason why walking helps reduce stress is that it boosts your bodies release of endorphins.
Endorphins make you feel good and are known to reduce anxiety, mild depression and improve self-esteem. Your body wants you to feel better, so by walking, and exercising you are helping the body do what it is supposed to do and releasing the hormones that make you feel better.
In addition to the benefits of releasing endorphins, walking also helps you feel less tired. Being less tired is excellent as it will help you deal with stress and other negative emotions.
Finally, walking can do an even better job of reducing stress if you walk with friends. Walking with someone else may seem more interesting, yet at the same time, it isn’t something you may usually do. That said, being with friends will help you feel better. It will also give you a chance to talk about the things that are on your mind and potentially causing your stress.
Now that we are halfway through our list of 10 benefits of walking let’s move on to the next five items.
6) Helps Improves Mood
In a lot of ways, walking will improve your mood. You could say, the improved mood is similar to a reduction in stress. In other words, if you are stressed, and you are doing things to get to ‘normal.’ Then doing those same things when you are in a ‘normal’ state will help you feel better.
Assuming there isn’t already too much on your plate, walking is going to help you feel better in general.
But even if you are too busy or stressed, taking a break and going for a walk will make you feel better.
Researchers at Saint Xavier University found that doing similar tasks while sitting or walking gave different results. When people are asked to watch a boring video while resting, they will get less enjoyment out of the experience. Whereas, if they are to walk while watching a similar video, they will feel better and are more uplifted afterwards. These studies accounted for many factors by telling the participants that they would need to write a paper later. They also did the research in the same room, so that the exercise equipment was always present.
Walking has been found to give us a sense of engagement, so while walking might seem boring, it is a worth while effort.
So if you go for a walk before doing something you aren’t very interested in, you will feel more engaged because of the walk. Related to this, walking, in general, will make you feel better. Meaning that walking before doing something will help you feel more involved and confident about the experience. In general, all of these things will put you in a better mood.
7) Helps Increased Productivity
Walking has great benefits when it comes to improving creativity, decreasing stress and improving moods. For many reasons, these improvements will also contribute to better productivity.
That said, increased productivity comes down to the way you feel while you are working. With less stress, you are more focused on what you are doing. The focus will allow you to get more done and help you from drifting off onto other things.
Improved mood will help you work better with others. When you are in a good mood, you are less likely to engage in conflict or give a wrong impression to your co-workers. The idea being, that when you are in a good mood, you can be your best self. Meaning you will work better with your co-workers, and they will be able to work better with you.
As mentioned before, when improving your mood, you will also work better because you will be happier and more satisfied with what you are doing.
Often, work can be exhausting and uninteresting, but being in a good mood enables you to be more engaged even if you don’t want to be.
Another benefit and something similar to what we will talk about in the next section has to do with walking meetings. If you walk with your co-workers, you can work out issues or figure things out in a less stressful environment. At times, the workplace can sterilize conversations, so walking is an excellent antidote for that.
8) Great For Your Social Well Being
For me, this is one of the best things about walking. Though at the same time, it isn’t something I do very often. I usually find that I often go for walks alone, but when I do walk with someone else, we often have great conversations.
When you are walking, there is a lot less going on, than if you were sitting in a coffee shop. In a busy place, there are lots of people around, so distractions are plentiful. Also, there are phones and other electronic devices that distract us and disengaged us in our conversations. Walking outside is the perfect environment for a discussion because it lacks all those distractions.
On top of this, walking gives you an opportunity to spend time with your friends or family members. As mention above, walking is an excellent opportunity to focus on the people that you are with at the time.
Walking makes it easier to concentrate on the conversation as there are less of the typical distractions found inside.
Walking in itself is healthy, and spending time with the important people in your life is also healthy. So doing both of these things together is going to have cumulative benefits.
Exercise and positive social experiences will help you release endorphins which will make you feel better. Better still, spending time with friends or family while walking will improve everyone’s experience.
A relationship is nothing without the time spent together. Going for a walk is an engaging, cheap and healthy way to spend time with someone. For this reason and those above, walking is a great way to help maintain healthy relationships.
9) Soak Up The Vitamin D, Breathe in the Fresh Air
One of the most obvious benefits of walking is the time you spend outside. There are some factors to consider, but in general being outside means, you are going to be getting fresh air. Also, seeing the sun means you will be getting vitamin D as well.
For obvious reasons, these benefits are going to be more prevalent when you are walking in a forest or park rather than in the city. It is also going to work better if it is the sunny season and a non-cloudy day. But all in all, these are only a small part of the equation.
The benefits of fresh air are enormous as fresh air helps you clear out your lungs and get more oxygen. It also helps you with digestion by increasing the oxygen in your bloodstream.
Increased oxygen is also good for your heart and blood pressure. Also, it helps with your immune system and makes you feel happier in general.
Vitamin D has all sorts of benefits as well. According to WebMD, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium which strengthens your bones and body. Vitamin D is also significant because it reduces the risk of various types of cancer and heart disease.
Another thing to consider is that you can take vitamin supplements, but the best sources are always the more natural ones. So in this case, sunshine works best.
Walking outside in the sun is excellent for your health because of all the fresh air and vitamin D you get.
10) Reduces The Risks of Old Age
For all of the reasons listed above, walking is an excellent activity for your body. The more you take care of your body today, the better shape you will be in as you get older. For this reason, walking will do wonders for helping you maintain a healthy body into old age.
Some special considerations for old age are those concerning certain types of cancer and body strength. As people get older, their risk for many different kinds of diseases increases. Bone strength is essential when it comes to osteoporosis and conditions related to ageing.
Keeping fit will put your body in a better position to deal with the potential complications of growing older.
Another thing that happens as we get older is that we tend to become less active. While you are working, you have no choice but to move around to get from place to place. But when you have less to do, you have fewer reasons to move. For this reason, walking is going to give you extra exercise that will potentially make a big difference.
Walking is also good for your social health in old age. I know my mother, who is now retired goes on a walk every day with her friends. Walking together is an excellent way for them to get exercise and spend time with their friends. If they weren’t walking, they might feel more isolated.
A common problem for older people is the feeling of isolation, so walking with friends is a great way to combat that.
Overall, the benefits of walking are all the more critical as you get older. So as you walk more, you will live a more healthy life today and in the future.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it undoubtedly covers a lot of things and will hopefully help you live a more meaningful life.
Do you know of other benefits that I may have missed or overlooked? Are there other reasons why you may walk that don’t have to do with these benefits?