Walking can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. It may also help prevent certain diseases and even prolong your life.
Walking is free to do and easy to fit into your daily routine. All you need to start walking is a pair of comfortable shoes.
Here are some of the benefits of walking…
1. Burn calories – A brisk 30-minute walk burns approximately 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can help you maintain or lose weight. Your actual calorie burn will depend on several factors, including:
- walking speed
- distance covered
- terrain (you’ll burn more calories walking uphill than you’ll burn on a flat surface)
- your weight
2. Strengthens the heart – Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by about 19% and your risk may reduce even more when you increase the duration or distance you walk per day.
3. Can help lower your blood sugar – Taking a short walk after eating may help lower your blood sugar.
Researchers studying older adults with pre-diabetes found that 15 minutes of easy-to-moderate exercise after every meal curbed risky blood sugar spikes all day.
4. Eases joint pain – Walking can help protect the joints, including your knees and hips. That’s because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints.
Walking may also provide benefits for people living with arthritis, such as reducing pain. And walking 5 to 6 miles a week may also help prevent arthritis.
5. Boosts immune function – Walking may reduce your risk for developing a cold or the flu.
Walking increases oxygen flow through the body. It can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Those are the hormones that help elevate energy levels.
7. Improve your mood – Walking can help your mental health. It can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals, but exercise also helps your brain get rid of chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious. People who exercise tend to be happier and less stressed than those who don’t exercise. Regular exercise can also help you control your emotions when you do feel angry or upset.
8. Extend your life – Walking at a faster pace could extend your life. Researchers found that walking at an average pace compared to a slow pace resulted in a 20 percent reduced risk of overall death.
But walking at a brisk or fast pace (at least 4 miles per hour) reduced the risk by 24 percent. The study looked at the association of walking at a faster pace with factors like overall causes of death, cardiovascular disease, and death from cancer.
9. Tone your legs – Walking can strengthen the muscles in your legs. To build up more strength, walk in a hilly area or on a treadmill with an incline. Or find routes with stairs.
10. Creative thinking – Walking may help clear your head and help you think creatively.
A study that included four experiments compared people trying to think of new ideas while they were walking or sitting. Researchers found participants did better while walking, particularly while walking outdoors.