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, straightforward activity that anyone can incorporate into their daily routine and an easy way to get physical activity. Here are ten underrated benefits of walking for exercise.
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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 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 examined men and women who were instructed not to change their diets. The participants came from a sedentary lifestyle, walked 12 miles a week, and lost significant abdominal and waist inches.
Finally, Research has shown that alternating between moderate and faster walking speeds during a walk can elevate calorie burn and fat oxidation, providing a valuable strategy for those seeking to manage their weight.
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, which 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 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 cardiovascular health because It strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels. In one study, walking was a recommended preventative measure to reduce heart disease. In the study, heart disease risk was reduced by 20% by walking regularly. Walking for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, can significantly improve cardiovascular health by improving blood circulation and increasing oxygen supply.
Walking increases creativity by 60%, according to researchers! A study by Stanford found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined the creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat. The results showed that a person’s creative output increased by 60 percent when walking.
Additionally, walking has been shown to stimulate the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a role in memory and imagination. This increase in neurons could help to boost creativity. If you ever have a moment where you’re unmotivated or blocked, try walking. You can do it inside or outside; the output is still the same.
Walking is a functional activity that is considered a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens bones and joints, reducing the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis. It supports bone density by encouraging the absorption of calcium in the bones. It uses the body’s large muscle groups 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, brisk 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 as 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. Start by taking small steps, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your walks. Share your walking journey with others and encourage them to join in, making it a collective effort towards a healthier lifestyle. Remember, walking is not just exercise; it’s a pathway to better health and happiness.