Walking is a low-impact activity for all ages, from children to seniors, and is practical to do solo or as a group. It is never too late to build a walking routine and even 30 minutes a day can bring positive results for your physical and mental health. It doesn’t require specific equipment or training, although sturdy and supportive shoes are a must to help with posture and comfort. You can also walk at any time that suits you, set your own pace, and build endurance over time.
Whether you decide to park further away from your office, enjoy a stroll after the school day with your children, or gather with friends during the weekend to explore the neighborhood, you have plenty of options to walk. Even if you live in colder weather, opting for a treadmill can be a practical solution.
#1 Burns Calories
Regular walking burns extra calories and improves your body’s response to insulin, which helps regulate your blood sugar levels. This can reduce belly fat and/or maintain a healthy weight.
Factors impacting how many calories you burn include:
- Your weight
- Your pace
- The distance walked
- The terrain
Choosing an outdoor route that includes some hills and incorporating intervals can increase the number of calories you burn. Walking is considered a low-intensity steady-state form of cardio exercise, which has a more significant impact when practiced frequently and for extended periods of time. Walking 30 minutes every day, if possible at a brisk pace, is an effective starting point.
#2 Improves Sleep
Regular physical activity, such as walking, increases the effects of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Quality sleep is vital for good health, including a higher level of energy. Exercise can benefit even those who already sleep for 7 solid hours every night. Walking reduces tension and stress that can impact the onset and progression of sleep disorders, including insomnia.
If you feel you have too much energy in the evening and/or feel agitated, taking even a short walk can help you get ready for bedtime. Walking can also alleviate various body aches, which can cause sleep disturbances.
#3 Reduces Joint Pain
Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that can improve joint support. It promotes better blood circulation, which improves your range of motion and mobility. Walking is a full-body activity, and while it helps protect your hips, knees, and ankles, your other joints can also benefit from this type of exercise as well.
Incorporating walks into your daily life can help prevent the onset of arthritis and other mobility-related disabilities. Individuals who experience arthritis still benefit from walking as it can alleviate lower-body joint pain.
#4 Builds Muscle Strength
Finding ways to build muscle strength is important for your health, especially as many of us spend hours sitting for work or school. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to bad posture and muscle atrophy. Walking can help remedy that and improve the condition of our muscles.
Regular walking also increases flexibility and supports healthier tendons. Walking is a good way to build lower body strength, but it also engages your core and benefits your whole body. If you haven’t worked out in a long time, you may experience some cramps at first. That’s why it’s a good idea to include appropriate stretches before and after your walk. As you experiment with pace, terrains, and work towards greater endurance, you will feel your level of fitness increase.
#5 Boosts the Immune System
Your immune system protects you from various infections and diseases. Walking at least 30 minutes a day minimizes your health risks because it boosts your immune cells and increases their numbers. This allows your immune system to fight pathogens with greater efficiency.
Walking can also help your body heal faster, whether it is physical wounds or a cold. Supporting your immune system with regular exercise is a good habit to develop on top of a balanced diet and regular medical checkups.
#6 Supports Cardiovascular Health
Walking is a great way to keep your heart healthy and can reduce the risk of strokes and cardiovascular diseases. It is a very effective type of physical activity that engages the whole body. In turn, it elevates your heart rate and boosts your blood circulation.
Walking counts as aerobic exercise (or “cardio”) and increased cardiovascular activity is a primary factor in being able to build your endurance over time. Strengthening your muscles, lowering your blood pressure, and burning extra calories all help to minimize excessive strain on your heart.
#7 Promotes Better Mental Health
When we discuss the health benefits of walking, it is important to include not only the positive impact on physical health, but how it can improve mental health. Exercise can significantly reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and it applies to walking.
When we deal with high levels of stress, we can experience adrenal fatigue due to the increased production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Walking is a practical way to rebalance your hormones and stabilize your mood, thanks to the production of endorphins, the chemicals that regulate our emotions.
Nature walks can be especially beneficial to alleviate stress and support relaxation, but moving your body is the core factor, so even walking in an indoor mall or on a treadmill will help to improve your mental health.
#8 Clears the Mind
Walking stimulates neurotransmitter function, with the brain releasing dopamine and norepinephrine, which improve our mood. This also sharpens your mind and improves focus, which has positive impacts on your life, including at work. If you walk regularly, your decision-making process can become more effective, which leads to greater organization and a steadier output.
Walking enhances blood circulation and decreases fatigue and brain fog, offering you a mood booster and clarity. Besides increased mental performance, walking can also help you be more creative, whether for planning projects at school or work, or even for artistic endeavors.
If you are looking for healthy lifestyle advice and effective weight loss programs, our team at Soza Weight Loss can help you! Call us today at (504) 475-9817 or use our online contact formto schedule a consultation.