Because it’s so simple, walking is an amazing exercise we often overlook. It’s a fantastic addition to any routine: perfect for active recovery from more strenuous workouts, and a fabulous entry point for those new to exercise. Let’s talk about why it’s so great, and how to get the most out of it.
Physical benefits of walking:
- Improves cardiovascular health and conditioning.
- Improves circulation, and daily walks greatly reduce the risk of stroke.
- Helps joint health and can reduce joint pain. “Motion is lotion!”
- Improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and lowers risk of diabetes.
- Strengthens bones, which in turn helps prevent broken bones.
- Improves digestion.
- Improves sleep quality — especially if you walk outdoors before noon.
- Helps alleviate soreness from a tough workout.
Mental benefits of walking:
- Boosts your mood; thanks endorphins!
- Alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Improves brain function and improves our working memory. Daily walks have even been shown to slow age-related memory loss and to decrease the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Boosts creativity (some studies say by up to 60%!)
Get even better results when you walk outside in nature. You don’t have to venture into the deep woods, but any naturalized area is great — like a park or neighborhood with trees and birds and such, or by a lake or ocean, etc.
A note on walking vs running:
Walking shouldn’t be seen as a lesser exercise than running; it’s just different. Studies show that moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.
How to walk well:
Get the most out of walking by doing it well.
- WALK TALL and keep your eyes on the horizon. Glance down if needed to make sure you won’t trip on uneven surfaces, but don’t stare at the ground and please keep your eyes off your phone.
- SWING YOUR ARMS. Let shoulders and hips move freely.
- BREATH. Don’t overthink it but try to keep your mouth closed so your breathe through your nose and let your belly expand with each breath.
Do you walk regularly?
If not, could you find a way fit in a short walk a few days each week?