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Walking: The Most Underrated Exercise

September 14, 2018
benefits of walking

While it may be no surprise that a daily walk is better than no exercise whatsoever, fitness experts and numerous studies indicate that walking can be as beneficial as running in many ways. In fact, the benefits are considerable. From reducing stress and the risk of many chronic diseases to boosting your mood and creativity, taking a regular 30 minute walk is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health. Just what can a daily walk do for you? We’re glad you asked..

 

Boost Your Mood

Just getting out in the sun is one great benefit to regular walks. You’ll get Vitamin D, which is especially helpful in combating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter months. But there’s also something zen about a nice walk. It can be very meditative. In fact, in her book The Doctor on Demand Diet, Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, MD notes that regular walking retools your nervous system, helping you experience a more positive outlook. And if you walk with a friend, you’ll find the interaction will boost your mood overall.

 

Get Creative

A positive outlook is just the start of the mental benefits of walking. It’s also a great way to clear away creative cobwebs. In fact, many writers do their best writing while walking instead of sitting at a desk. Whether you hit a mental roadblock in your work or you have become frustrated by a confounding problem, getting out and walking can be a huge help. Recent research shows that going for a walk can not only spark creativity, but also prevent early dementia and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Lose Weight

OK, “No duh,” you say. Indeed, weight loss might be the most obvious benefit to any exercise. But you might be surprised at how quickly you see the impact. Daily walking not only increases your metabolism by burning extra calories, but also helps prevent muscle loss. That’s particularly important as we get older.

 

Strengthen Bones and Joints

Speaking of things that are important as we grow older, walking can provide more joint mobility. After all, they don’t call it “stretching your legs” for nothing. But did you know walking can also prevent loss of bone mass, and even reduce risk of fractures? In other words, if you keep walking you’re more likely to keep walking. Get it?

 

Improve Heart Health

Let’s not forget the Old Ticker. Who doesn’t want a healthy heart? Back in 2002, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who walked 30 or more minutes on 5 or more days per week had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, research shows that regular walking can lower blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%. Not bad, right?

 

Help Prevent Diabetes

This benefit is especially surprising because it turns out that walking can be a much more effective tool in preventing diabetes than running. One study showed that walkers demonstrated improvement in glucose tolerance almost 6 times greater than that of a group of runners.

 

Improve Eye Health

Now we start getting into some really surprising territory, because walking helps relieve eye pressure, which may help to fight glaucoma. Who knew? Well, now you do.

 

We hope that incomplete list of benefits is enough to get you to consider starting a walking regimen. When you do, we have a few other things to keep in mind to get the most from your outing:

  • Try changing up your route to keep things interesting, perhaps adding more hilly terrain if possible. It will not only help keep you from getting bored, but also wake up your mind.
  • Keep hydrated and energized by bringing along water and a healthy snack. Phyter bars are an excellent option, as they are fresh, convenient, and loaded with veggies and fruits.
  • Bring your smart phone and take some photos. You never know what wonders you may encounter while you’re out and about.

Happy walking!

1The Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2014.

2Arthritis Foundation, “Osteoperosis Self Care”.

3Diabetologia, “Effects of exercise training alone vs a combined exercise and nutritional lifestyle intervention on glucose homeostasis in prediabetic individuals: a randomised controlled trial”.

4Glaucoma Research Foundation, “What Can I Do to Prevent Glaucoma?”