Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to do HIIT workouts every day to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of walking. You don’t even have to run. According to Dr. Matt Tanneber, sports Chiropractor and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, “Walking can be as good as a workout, if not better, than running”. Shocking, isn’t it? Good old-fashioned walking has loads of advantages. Did you know that Charles Dickens often walked the streets of London to help his creativity flow? The characters of Oliver Twist and Ebenezer Scrooge were actually based on people he encountered on his walks. Here are the most significant and interesting 8 walking benefits:
1. It Reduces Your Risk of Disease
Plenty of studies have been conducted proving this fact. One highly cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, “found that those who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly”.
2. It Boosts Your Immune System
We all strive to improve our immune system in some way. Rather than overflowing your diet with so-called immune-boosting foods, simply try walking more. A study “tracked 1,000 adults during the flu season and found that those who walked at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day had 43% fewer sick days and fewer respiratory tract infections overall”. Walking helped cut these numbers by about half — a dramatic difference.
3. It Gives You More Energy
Feeling sluggish at the end of your workday? Instead of reaching for a coffee or Redbull, try taking a walk around the block. Walking helps oxygen flow through the body and increases levels of certain hormones that are responsible for increasing energy levels. One study conducted in 2008 found that adults who were previously sedentary reported feeling less fatigued and more energized after 20 minutes of low to moderate aerobic exercise (which included walking).
4. It Improves Your Mood
Who doesn’t need a mood booster sometimes? Many studies have shown that walking can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. And get this — according to Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, walking can boost your mood the same way a glass of wine or chocolate bar can. One study found that walking for 12 minutes “resulted in an increase in joviality, vigor, attentiveness, and self-confidence”. Furthermore, walking in nature can amplify these effects, as it reduces the rumination over negative experiences.
5. It Can Grant You A Longer Life
While some people swear on unconventional methods to increase your lifespan, there is also a more straightforward way. You guessed it: walking. Researchers found that walking reduced the risk of overall death by 24%. Another study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society “showed that adults between the ages of 70 and 90 who left the house and were more physically active lived longer than those who didn’t”.
6. It Protects Your Joints
It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but moving your joints regularly can actually help strengthen them. It improves your range of motion, mobility, and also increases your blood flow to tense areas. Walking can even help ease pain! Pete McCall, exercise physiologist says that “the motion can elevate tissue temperature making it easier for muscles to lengthen and shorten — as temperature increases, muscles move more easily”.
7. It Makes You More Creative
Ever experience writer's block or struggle to come up with new ideas? I think we’ve all been there. Well, studies show that “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity”. One study included four experiments comparing people attempting to think of new ideas while they were either walking or sitting. They found that the participants who were walking did better, particularly while walking outdoors.
8. It Improves Digestion
Have you ever gone on a post-dinner walk and notice how good you feel? It turns out that there is actually a science to back this up. According to Tara Alaichamy, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America walking “can greatly improve your bowel movements”. Moving your body after a meal helps move things “within your body as you process the food you just ate”.
Walking is something human beings have been doing forever. Before cars and planes existed, the human race had no option other than to walk. Walking is in a way ingrained into who we are and it’s no wonder that it has plenty of benefits. Walking also doesn’t require a ton of energy or skill, so the majority of people can strive for these benefits. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and put one foot in front of the other!
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