Walking might seem like too normal an activity to benefit your health in many ways, but it’s actually surprisingly beneficial as an exercise form. The benefits of walking include improved heart and lung function, flexibility, muscle strength, reduced blood pressure and other important benefits. Read on to discover 12 benefits of walking and discover why a daily walk can help prevent everything from cancer and aging to diabetes and dementia.
1. Contributes to Weight Loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, walking is one of the best ways to drop the pounds and keep them off. Walking burns about 100 calories a mile.
This might not feel like it adds up to much when compared with how many calories we eat, but daily walking makes a difference over the course of a week, especially if you cut back on your calories too.
Its not only about the weight loss from calories burned by walking. It’s also about revving up your metabolism after you’ve finished your walk.
Keeping active makes the body more efficient at burning calories even when at rest, so a brisk walk has a positive knock on effect. Just 30 minutes of daily walking is hugely beneficial to weight loss goals.
2. Improves Muscle Strength
Walking improves muscle strength and just 45 minutes can make a huge difference to your overall muscular ability. The simple exercise of walking particularly strengthens your legs and back and is also great for older people looking to prevent muscle loss.
One of the greatest benefits of walking is that, as it’s a slow and steady muscle builder and such a natural form of exercise, the risk of injury is very low. Your muscles are benefited in more ways than increased strength, as your muscle memory and reflexes will also improve.
3. Boosts Heart Health
The heart is a muscle and regular cardio exercise builds strength in the heart, just like weight training builds strength in our other muscles.
Just 20 minutes of regular walking boosts heart health and reduces your risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart problems. Individuals with lower fitness levels can build up from a slow, short stroll to a brisk, longer walk.
4. Increases Lung Capacity
Your exercise capacity is increased from regular walking. An hour of walking improves your body’s ability to deal with oxygen and carbon dioxide, especially if you walk at different intervals combining slow and fast walking.
You will increase your stamina and lung capacity which aids exercise performance at every level. Your energy levels are also boosted in general, so you’ll feel more energetic in daily life if you walk regularly. This higher energy level is one of the best benefits of walking.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Walking is a good exercise for people wanting to regulate their blood pressure. Walking can be a relatively gentle exercise so is ideal for helping to lower blood pressure in people with health problems, especially heart issues.
Benefits of walking also include keeping normal blood pressure regulated and preventing blood pressure problems in the future.
6. Improves Circulation
Just like walking helps boost the metabolism it also improves circulation. The blood gets pumping and your body gets into the rhythm of walking, so your circulation needs to rev up to keep the blood flow to your muscles.
This circulation boost also helps to improve brain function and memory.
7. Reduces the Risk of Cancer and Slows Aging
Walking can help protect against various illnesses. Benefits of walking include a reduced risk of cancer. This is because it prevents cell degeneration. Just 25 minutes of daily walking reduces your cancer risk.
It also slows down aging for the same reasons, as natural cell degeneration from aging is also reduced.
8. Reduces Risk of Diabetes and Dementia
Walking reduces the risk of diabetes as it regulates blood sugar and prevents insulin resistance. Walking protects against dementia as it builds brain strength, encourages better circulation of blood to the brain and prevents loss of memory.
9. Boosts Immunity
The health effects of walking also include boosting your immune function. 30 minutes of walking per day increases the activity of the immune cells in the body, which are predominantly the B-cells and T-cells. Walking boosts your powers of resistance to all sorts of bugs and viruses. Walking outside in the daylight for just 10 minutes also helps you get enough vitamin D.
10. Improves Digestion
Taking short walks after eating can help the digestion. Just 5 minutes of gentle walking after dinner helps prevent bloating and digestive discomfort. It also helps to prevent diarrhea and constipation, while your risk of colon cancer is also reduced by walking.
11. Increases Bone Strength
As with all weight-bearing exercise, walking increases bone strength. This reduces your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Walking also improves your posture, so your walk becomes more efficient and your balance is improved.
12. Boosts Mood
Finally – and this is one of the most noticeable benefits of walking – walking is a great stress reliever and can work wonders to boost your mood. Just 15 minutes of walking, especially outdoors, helps to fight low mood.
If you can walk in natural surroundings, this can be even more beneficial as just being in nature has a great effect on positivity and mental health.
Some people enjoy walking in groups and this can be a great social activity, which can in turn improve mood. You can even find walking groups and meet ups, which focus on the social aspects as well as the health benefits of walking.
Walking can help prevent depression and anxiety disorders, relaxing the nerves and brain. In this way, walking also helps you become more productive and creative as it can help you to think more clearly and get a new sense of perspective.
This is especially useful if you walk at lunchtime while at work or enjoy walking to and from work. Walking can help you arrive at the office more relaxed than commuting by car.
It can also help you unwind after a busy day and help shake off the ‘work’ feeling, so you arrive home refreshed and ready for leisure time.
Share your thoughts on the benefits of walking
Do you walk regularly as part of your exercise routine?
Have you noticed any particular benefits of walking?
Does walking improve your mood? Do you feel more creative or productive after a long walk?
Have you managed a health problem with increased walking?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.