Walking may seem a little too easy, but it’s so full of benefits. It’s an incredible form of aerobic exercise that engages almost every muscle in your body. As a result, it promotes health, enhances fitness, and prevents chronic conditions. Here are the 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Walking Daily and why you should incorporate it into your daily routine.
1. Walking will strengthen your heart
Walking is a form of physical exercise that strengthens the heart, increases the heart rate, and promotes better circulation throughout the body. Good circulation increases nutrient and oxygen delivery to different body tissues, including heart muscles leading to a healthy and strong heart.
Research shows that walking for approximately 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can lower your risk of developing stroke and heart disease by 35 percent.
Furthermore, from a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, walking that met the physical activity score led to a 30 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack. At the same time, those who didn’t engage in regular walking had an increased risk for the same cardiovascular events.
2. It may increase your energy levels
Walking increases blood circulation throughout the body, which promotes oxygen delivery to the cells. Oxygen supports the mitochondria’s energy production, thus increasing your energy levels.
Walking also increases the production of endorphins, brain chemicals associated with better mood and increased energy.
3. It may lower blood pressure
Regular walking helps strengthen your heart and makes it pump blood more efficiently and with ease. It also reduces blood vessel stiffness and increases dilatation which allows blood to flow more freely.
A Framingham Heart Study found that a thousand steps taken daily could lower your systolic blood pressure by 45 points.
4. Walking reduces stress and tension
Walking pumps up your feel-good chemical endorphins, which improve mood and stimulates relaxation.
Research says even a stroll at a comfortable pace can relieve tension and promote stress-relieving benefits.
In a study to determine the effects of exercise on mood, participants were randomly selected to walk, meditate, or sit for ten minutes. Based on the findings, brisk walking and meditation improved mood compared to the sitting group.
5. Walking may improve abdominal obesity
Walking increases metabolism, which helps burn extra calories, especially fat on your midsection.
In one study, obese women participated in a walking exercise of 50-70 minutes a day three days a week for 12 weeks, while another controlled group of obese women maintained their sedentary lifestyle.
At the end of the study, the exercise group reduced both visceral and subcutaneous fat, while the controlled group experienced no change.
The exercise group also experienced improved insulin sensitivity.
Researchers believe that increasing your speed for small bouts of time may offer significant results instead of a slow walk for one hour. You can have intervals of fast-paced walking (as fast as you can go) followed by brisk walking for another minute, then cooling down for about 2 minutes.
6. Walking may boost your immune system
Walking is the easiest way to help your body stay safe and fight off infections.
According to research, walking increases the number of immune cells in the body, thus helping you fight off infections. And even if you get sick, research shows that those who walk regularly have a quicker recovery rate than those who don’t.
In one study, those that took a daily walk at a moderate speed for 30-45 minutes during the flu season experienced 45 percent fewer upper respiratory tract infections and fewer sick days.
7. It may stimulate your digestive system
Walking may aid digestion and overall digestive health by activating your digestive system into movement. This increases intestinal activities, such as reducing the time for food to move from the stomach into the small intestines. It also aids bowel movements and promotes regularity and frequency.
8. May relieve joint pain
Walking increases blood flow to your joint cartilage, which provides it the needed nutrients to cushion and protect the bones. Increased circulation also nourishes and strengthens the surrounding muscle, helping protect the joint even more.
Moreover, walking massages your joints, increasing lubrication and decreasing stiffness and pain, especially in conditions such as arthritis.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that walking for an hour each week may help alleviate joint pain in individuals with lower-body joint pain.
9. Improves memory
Brisk walking increases blood flow to the brain, which promotes better cognitive function and protects against decline.
10. Walking may promote longevity
According to research, walking at an average pace may reduce your risk of overall death by 20 percent, while walking at a faster pace results in a 24 percent reduction.
Tips to Get You Started
- Start slow but aim to walk as fast as you can, at least 30 minutes daily or most days of the week.
- Lengthen your back
- Relax your shoulders by keeping them down and back
- Step from heel to tore
- Swig your arms
- Engage your core
- Ensure comfortable footwear
- Seek company
- Distribute your walks throughout the day
- Join a walking program or group
Things to Avoid When Walking
- Avoid long strides
- Don’t look down
- Avoid slouching
- Don’t look down
Walking is the easiest yet overly beneficial form of aerobic exercise when done well.
It may increase your energy levels, strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, aid fat loss, improve memory, relieve joint pain, improve digestive health, boost your immunity, and enhance longevity.
However, a variation in speed may offer different results. For instance, a moderate pace or brisk walking at your maximum is more effective than slow walking.
A few things to keep you on the right track include ensuring you have comfortable shoes and aim to walk at least 30 minutes daily or most days of the week.
And to keep you motivated, consider joining a walking group or finding someone, whether it’s a friend or a family member, to offer you some company.
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