Do you know how many health benefits of walking there are? You might be surprised how this simple, natural form of movement can greatly enhance your health and wellbeing. So let’s take look at the long list of reasons to get walking.
Achieve the health benefits of walking
The health benefits of walking come from walking for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
The pace of walking is also important. Brisk walking is recommended, which means that you are walking at a pace that still allows you to talk but you might be puffing a little.
A warning here though, if you are over 40 years of age, are carrying excess weight or haven’t exercised for quite a while, then a medical check-up is recommended before you start stepping out.
10 health benefits of walking
#1 Boost your mood
Walking boosts your mood due to the circulation of “feel good” hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in our nervous system).
Walking with a friend increases this effect, as walking becomes a social activity.
#2 Clear your mind and switch on your creativity
Being physically active helps us to remove mental blocks.
I am sure this occurs due to the combination of being outdoors, moving, breathing and focussing on a new task.
So often we find the solution to a stubborn problem during or after a walk.
#3 Reduce excess body fat
Walking helps insulin work more effectively. This means belly fat will reduce.
Even if your weight stays the same, your clothes will feel looser.
#4 Improve your fitness
Aerobic fitness concerns the heart’s ability to get oxygen to our muscles as well as how effectively our muscles can use the oxygen.
As your fitness improves you will be able to do more activities without becoming fatigued as quickly.
The good news is that 30 minutes of brisk walking, for at least five days a week, improves our fitness.
You can break the 30 minutes into three 10 minute sessions too.
#5 Increase muscle strength and stamina
Walking is beneficial in preventing age-related loss of muscle size and strength. It is not a strength-based activity as such.
You can increase the strength of your lower body muscles, bones and tendons by including hills and steps (stairs) in your walk, and also carrying a backpack with some weight in it!
#6 Improve digestion
Walking engages our core abdominal muscles encouraging our gastrointestinal tract to work more effectively.
Traditional Chinese Medicine promotes walking to improve digestive health. The Spleen Meridian (energy channel) passes through our digestive tract and big toe. Mindful walking stimulates the Spleen Meridian.
#7 Strengthen your bones
Weight-bearing exercise, such as brisk walking, helps the body to build bone tissue.
#8 Improve your balance
Even though walking is a simple activity, foot placement, especially on uneven or unsealed trails, requires a number of muscle groups to work together.
If you have any problems with balance, then I would seek advice from an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist.
#9 Reduce your risk of chronic diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
#10 Improve the management of chronic diseases, such as:
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension
- High blood cholesterol
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Muscle and joint pain and stiffness
Wearing a pedometer or fitness device, or using a smartphone app allows you to monitor your walking (steps) during the day.
Maximise the health benefits of walking by aiming to reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
Most of us will need to include at least 30 minutes of brisk walking and be generally active during the rest of the day to reach 10,000 steps.
Incidental activity includes gardening, shopping, housework, and general walking to complete tasks. All forms of movement are beneficial.
Consider the health benefits of walking alongside your other lifestyle choices such as eating, sleep and time for relaxation.
The Eating for You book provides a personalised guide to creating a balanced lifestyle.
The content on this website is for information purposes only. The information shared is not meant to replace that provided by your healthcare practitioner. For personalised advice see a qualified healthcare practitioner.