Walking is something that many do daily, but the benefits are often overlooked as an exercise mode. Walking has vast benefits for our physical and mental health that you will be surprised by. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to get physical activity. Here are ten underrated benefits of walking for exercise.
When is walking considered exercise?
Walking is a safe way to exercise, and it’s best to walk at a brisk pace for many of the health benefits. A brisk pace is when you still feel your heart rate increase but can still talk normally. On a treadmill, that’s about 3.2-3.5 mph. Cardiovascular activity, such as walking, should be done at 150 minutes 5 days a week.
Reduces Belly Fat
Walking is excellent for fat loss because it’s moderate to low intensity. That is the ideal environment for fat burning. Along with proper nutrition, walking is proven to reduce belly fat, according to a study. In the study, women considered obese walked for 50-70 minutes a week and lost a significant amount of belly fat compared to the control group—specifically, the hidden stubborn fat in the abdomen.
Another study looked at both men and women, where they were instructed not to change their diets. The participants came from a sedentary lifestyle and walked 12 miles a week, and lost a significant amount of abdominal and waist inches.
It’s known that exercise improves mental health because it increases the feel-good hormones in the body. Walking specifically is an excellent way to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you ever feel stressed or frustrated, try a short walk to boost your mood. According to a study, young adults with grief who took a 10-minute brisk walk raised their mood compared to no activity, and this had the same positive effects as meditation. Try combining both for a more considerable mood boost.
It’s suggested that walking after eating improves digestion by stimulating the stomach and intestines, allowing the food to flow through quicker. In addition, it helps to prevent gastrointestinal diseases like ulcers, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome(IBS). In a recent study, walking after eating decreased the symptoms of IBS by 50%. It’s essential to wait at least 10-20 minutes after eating to reduce the risk of stomach pain.
Because walking is an easy and sustainable way to exercise, walking is a perfect way to strengthen your heart rate. In one study, walking was a recommended preventative measure for the reduction of heart disease. In the study, heart disease risk was reduced by 20% walking regularly.
Walking increases creativity by 60%, according to researchers! If you ever have a moment where you’re unmotivated or blocked, try walking. You can do it inside or outside, and the output is still the same.
Walking is a functional activity that is considered weight-bearing. It uses the large muscle groups of the body and helps to support bone health while supporting the muscles. Try adding ankle weights to add resistance or hills to challenge the muscles of the legs further.
Improves Your Sleep
Regular walking is positively associated with improved sleep. An observational study found this to be specifically valid for women. The effects of walking and sleep improved the quality of sleep overall. In addition, according to the Arthritis Foundation, women who walked for an hour in the morning were less likely to suffer from insomnia.
Increases Life Span
Did you know that walking an extra 1,000 steps a day increases your life span? This was found to be accurate by researchers at the American Heart Association. Participants were observed over a 6-year term and found those that walked 1,000 steps had a reduced risk of death by 28% and up to 32% at 2,000 steps. In addition, the Mayo Clinic observed, people who walked fast (briskly) had longer life expectancies across all body types.
Improves Brain Function
The physical act of walking boosts blood flow to the brain. In addition, briskly walking increases white matter in the brain and memory. White matter declines as we age, and white matter loss is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, walking should be used to reduce age-related cognitive decline and a preventative measure for cognitive disorders.
Walking is proven to reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms. A study observed walking and its association with upper respiratory infections in healthy adults. The symptoms were shortened by at least 43% in those that walked regularly. In addition, a daily 30-minute walk boosts our white blood cells, which are associated with immune response.
I know we overlook the power of walking for better health, but maybe you will pay attention to its benefits. Because walking is an accessible way to exercise, it’s easier for people to commit to this form of fitness. Find different ways to make walking fun or use it as stress relief. Either way, you will reap the benefits.