The vast health benefits of exercise have been known for about 50 years, but it is still difficult for many to start a regular exercise program. This is often a failure to see the long-term benefits or use any activity as a base from which others may later be added.
When we think of physical activities and good habits that are beneficial for the health, we name a lot of sports activities like jogging, swimming, yoga, Pilates, etc. But, if you think a little deeper and don’t limit your choice only to the mentioned ones, you will soon find out that walking can be much more helpful in keeping fit than many other popular types of exercise.
Studies suggested that a 30-minute brisk walk daily may be just as good as high-impact workouts in terms of health benefits. Various research studies have proved the health benefits of walking regularly since the mid-1970s. Here are some of the confirmed benefits of walking:
Walking increases longevity
Walking regularly for 30 minutes a day can help increase longevity and prevent chronic diseases. The American Cancer Society has linked exercise to reduced risks of various cancer types. Doctors now believe that complete bed rest is an outdated approach to cancer treatment, especially for mesothelioma. The symptoms of this disease affect the general ability of patients to stay active. Inactivity can add up to the misery of the patients. Staying fit and active during chemotherapy and radiation treatment helps reduce fatigue, increase muscle strength and mass, and lift morale. In short, walking can help you fight the side effects of cancer treatment much better. If you or your loved one suffers from mesothelioma, click here to read up more about the disease and how to reduce the side effects of the treatment.
Walking can also help lower blood pressure, improve glucose metabolism and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels. It’s also a great way to prevent osteoporosis, which is more common in women than men.
Walking helps you lose weight
All types of physical activity can help with weight control, but walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to burn calories and lose weight. If you’re not currently active, walking is a great way to strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles. It may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), which is associated with obesity and physical inactivity. Here’s a little estimate of how many minutes of walking (3 mph) can help you burn calories:
- A 150-pound person burns about 500 calories in 30 minutes.
- A 200-pound person burns about 600 calories in 30 minutes
- A 250-pound person burns about 700 calories in 30 minutes
- A 300-pound person burns about 800 calories in 30 minutes.
So don’t give up and keep walking!
Walking keeps your mind sharp
Walking is known to keep your mind sharp by helping to clear away all the stresses of life. A brisk walk daily improves circulation throughout your body, which helps deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout all parts of your body. This oxygen-rich blood reaches the brain improves its functionality, and sharpens it further.
According to the National Library of Medicine research, walking may help prevent cognitive decline as we age. In this study, researchers found that regular walking was associated with better cognition in older adults, especially those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease or who already had mild cognitive impairment.
Walking strengthens bones and muscles
Walking is the best exercise for overall fitness. It strengthens bones and muscles and helps to balance the body. It also makes you more flexible and agile, improves circulation, and increases stamina. Since walking is low impact, it’s good for people with arthritis or other joint problems. It uses many different muscles to reduce stress on joints by distributing muscle strain throughout your body instead of concentrating it on one joint or muscle group.
Walking reduces anxiety and depression
Walking boosts brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more energetic. You’ll feel better after a walk because you’re doing something active and getting fresh air, which improves mood and energy levels.
It can help ward off depression by releasing endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are natural painkillers produced by your body, and they’ve been proven effective in relieving anxiety and depression symptoms in some people.
Walking improves sleep quality and quantity
As discussed above, walking reduces anxiety and stress. In addition, research conducted by Sleep Health Journal found that adults (with no clinical sleep problems) slept much better. When these healthy adults increased their walk time during the day, the quality of sleep they got at night improved a great deal.
Walking is convenient
Cardio, Pilates, and HIIT may seem tempting, but they are hard to follow. And this is why people usually give up after trying a few times. Walking is the most natural exercise that everyone can do. It doesn’t need any equipment and doesn’t require any expertise to do it. Walking is a low-impact activity that can be done almost anywhere — indoors or out — at any time of day.
If you lead a hectic life and have a lot of things to do every day, you have to find time for yourself for perfect health. If you cannot get time for a gym or fitness center, walking is the best option for physical health. It is the simplest and easiest way to stay healthy because everyone can manage to walk. Even if you live in a busy city where cars dominate the streets, you would always find ways to walk like at home or office premises. So make sure that your body is going forward in the right direction by walking more often!