Walking is the easiest way to kickstart your health journey. It's accessible, it's low-impact, and the health benefits are astounding. However, sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Once you discover these surprising health benefits, it may just get easier.
The truth is, we’re all looking for ways to increase our physical activity throughout the day, but the truth is, some days it can be hard to find the time to get to the gym, Pilates, or Zumba class.
In recent years, fitness tracker apps and Fitbit’s have increased in popularity as the talk of “getting your steps in” has become a mainstream way for people to lose weight and stay active, but what are the parameters and what health benefits are we talking about?
Some studies have said 5 miles or 10,000 steps is a good daily goal, while others have since said that that may be too hard to achieve and you can find similar results with fewer steps. With all the information out there about how many steps or miles you should be walking, it’s hard to know what is right or wrong.
What we do know is that any amount of walking each day is better than no walking at all. There’s no doubt that any extra movement outside of your daily routine is essential to good health. Find a pace that is right for you. Moderate walking is just as essential to fast-paced walking or even jogging.
Walking is one of the most relaxing ways to get exercise. Find a nature trail you enjoy or simply walk through your neighborhood. It’s an added benefit if you can find someone to walk with you because the combination of walking and talking is one of the healthiest things you can do. We need human connection for our emotional well-being.
30 minutes a day is a good goal to aim for. The benefits of walking, a relatively easy way to exercise, are unparalleled. You may be under the impression that you have to run miles, lift weights, or do intense training for health results, but that's simply not the case.
Even just a quick 15-minute walk will increase your aerobic exercise for the day and leave you feeling much better. Sometimes getting out the door is the hardest part. So, once you have made up your mind to improve your overall health, you're already on your way to a walking routine you never knew you needed.
There are other health benefits to walking daily that may be lesser known to you such as improved mood and creativity. Walking is the most underrated form of physical activity because we all do it so often, but there are so many benefits that need to be brought to light!
Let’s dive into 10 surprising benefits of walking daily.
Burns calories for weight loss
This is usually the top of everyone's health goals. We obviously need calories to exist, but we also need to burn them to maintain a healthy weight. We take in food to fuel us and we need to burn that fuel somehow throughout the day. Most adults in America consume more calories than they actually burn, which is why taking the initiative to start walking daily is a good step in the right direction (pun intended!)
Not only does it burn calories, but, according to Harvard Health, brisk walking for about an hour a day cuts the effects of obesity genes in half.
Makes your heart healthy
Aerobic exercise is good for blood circulation and heart health. According to the Heart Foundation, walking 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of major heart health concerns. If you already have a heart condition or are typically not physically active, try starting with 10 minutes a day and work your way up.
Walking supports the heart as it improves blood circulation throughout the body. Walks can be brisk or leisurely to achieve maximum flow.
Reduce your risk of joint discomfort
This may seem counterintuitive considering a lot of joint issues come with excess physical activity. However, low-impact exercise, like walking, is actually very healthy for your joints. It helps circulate blood to the cartridge around your joints and increases mobility. The more mobile you are, the less you will have to worry about joint discomfort as you age.
Walking can help lubricate your joints and loosen up any stiffness. It may also strengthen the muscles around your joints to cushion them and keep you active. If you pair walking at least 30 minutes a day with a joint support supplement, you may notice a difference in any discomfort you are experiencing in your joints.
Boost your immune function
Walking can lead to fewer sick days. By walking a few days a week, you may increase the number of white blood cells in your body. These are the cells that fight infection. Walking may also decrease the amount of stress you experience daily. Stress can lead to many different health concerns and lower your system's immunity.
Increase your energy levels
Moderate exercise actually gives you more energy. A daily walk is a great activity for your lunch break, as you will come back feeling more energized and ready to finish the workday. Walking can reduce that midday fatigue feeling that many people experience.
By getting in physical activity daily, especially if you've been sitting at a desk,
Enhance your mood
In fact, you may have been told to "go outside and get some fresh air" if you are not feeling well. This comes from the idea that getting up and walking around, or any physical activity for that matter, can lead to better wellbeing. Walking, especially in the outdoors, lifts the mood and calms the mind.
The minutes of walking you need to do doesn't necessarily matter for improving your mood. It's the getting up and doing it part that can help you get out of any funk you may be in. Once you get started, you may never want to stop!
You can try meditation
Some people have found that walking is a great time for meditating. Meditation is a great way to slow the mind down from the busy day and allow yourself to de-stress. If you find it hard to find time for yourself, a walk per week is a start. And you will receive all the added benefits of physical activity.
Walking for meditation is typically slower and not over a long distance, so it is great for beginners. It will allow you to slow down your thinking, connect with nature, and increase your focus. As you walk, you can let your mind wander which can also lead to an increase in creativity.
Your circulation improves
As we briefly mentioned earlier, walking can improve the circulation of blood within the body and more so to your brain. This flow of circulation to the brain is what helps your mood, your energy levels, your joint discomfort, and more.
Have you ever experienced your legs "falling asleep" if you've been sitting or lying too long? This is the effect of poor blood circulation in your legs. On the contrary, if you are moving around, your legs are constantly circulating blood from your toes to your brain!
You get better sleep
You may already know that when you exercise, you sleep better. More so, one study showed that out of 490 healthy participants dived into two groups, one that walked 10,000 steps 4 days a week and one didn't, the group that walked showed improvement in sleep patterns and duration.
If you find it hard to get to sleep at night, try walking for 30 minutes one day and see if it helps. It may help more than you think.
You live longer!
A walk a day keeps the doctor away! You may have heard that walking helps you live longer, but there are actual studies that back that advice up. For example, one study showed that participants who walked 1 hour per day had a longer life expectancy than those who did not.
The benefits of walking can help decrease your demands for medical care. The less stress you put your body under, the more likely you may live longer!
Summary: Open the door to physical activity
Walking is a gateway to being more active. The benefits you will receive can make it easier to reach fitness goals you may think are too far off.
All in all, walking is a great physical activity because it is accessible to men and women of any age. Walking poses little risk to major injury and the benefits of walking daily will boost your overall wellness.
Walks can be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or a couple of hours. That's the beauty of walks, it is up to you how long and how far you want to go. Start small if you are a beginner, so you don't overdo it on your first walk.
Your pace is also up to you. Remember to acknowledge the fact that you have already done the hardest part; you've gotten out of your comfort zone and decided to take the initiative to strengthen your muscles and control your life.
If you do find a walking routine that works for you, let us know. We love to hear about your health journey. Regular walking can help with unwanted weight, but the benefits go far beyond that. So grab your tennis shoes and get out the door!