The Benefits of Walking
Have you noticed the nicer weather? Have you driven around town and looked at the flowers beginning to bloom and the grass changing from brown to green? If so, take a step back in time, just a few months to New Year’s Day. Did you make a resolution to move your body more?
If you haven’t already begun, now is the perfect time to start. But what to do? How about a walk?
Here are some benefits of walking:
- Reduce Joint Pain: Do your joints hurt? Does the word exercise make you cringe? You’re in luck. Walking is one of the best low-impact activities to reduce joint pain. As you walk, blood flow increases and your range of motion improves, helping the muscles around your joints strengthen. In addition, walking helps with weight loss, and having less weight on your joints minimizes the pain.
- Increase Energy: While your blood is flowing, oxygen is making its way throughout your body, and the hormones that help elevate your energy levels are increasing.
- Burn Calories: If weight loss or maintenance is a goal, moving your legs can get you started. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Distance – Start with short distances and slowly increase the length.
- Speed – A brisk pace is key.
- Terrain – Are you walking on a flat surface or uphill?
- Your weight – Heavier people burn more calories.
- Intensity – The harder you work, the more calories you burn.
- Intervals – Calories continue burning even after you’ve stopped walking.
- Consistency – Increases your metabolism.
- A calorie calculator, fitness tracker, pedometer, or heart monitor may help motivation.
- Boost Your Immune System: Walking helps increase your body’s natural defense system by releasing an influx of white blood cells, such as neutrophils, along with much-needed antibodies. And, because walking helps relieve stress, the hormones associated with stress (cortisol and adrenaline) lessen, allowing the body to fight illnesses. A regular walking routine has a positive effect on the immune system.
- Improve Cardiovascular Health: Who doesn’t want a healthy heart? Aerobic activity not only boosts your immune system but also improves cardiovascular health. You can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by walking thirty minutes/day, five days/week.
- Lower Blood Sugar: As you walk, your heart beats faster, and you breathe harder, which means your muscles burn more glucose (sugar). Enjoy an after-dinner walk. You’re stretching your legs after a long day and helping to lower your glucose levels.
- Sleep Better: Is good sleep a priority? Then put your shoes to use and walk off excess energy, unload stress, boost your melatonin, and reduce your pain level.
- Improve Mood: Do you get the blues? Do your shoulders and jaw ache? Does the thought, “One more minute in this place and I’ll…”, ever run through your head? If so, it’s time for a walk. Here are a few things a walk can do for your mood:
- Loosen tense muscles
- Reduce anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Give you a break from stress
- Reduce depression
- Boost Creativity: Have you heard someone say, “I get my best ideas in the shower”? Walking can give you a similar result. Like showering, walking is something you’ve done most of your life, and by now, it’s usually on autopilot. Since that’s the case, your mind can wander, and creativity can flow.
Take a walk, enjoy the beauty around you, and do something good for your health – all at the same time.