Walking is one of the easiest ways to get active (and happens to be one of my favourite!). Even for those who don’t enjoy exercising or simply don’t have the time, walking can easily get a little cardio into your day. Just a little bit of walking can have benefits such as improved mood, calorie burn, and muscle strengthening!
Here are 10 benefits of walking daily (some may surprise you!):
1. BOOSTS MOOD
Getting active, even from walking, releases feel-good hormones, called endorphins, into the bloodstream. This natural high helps to reduce stress and anxiety and ultimately aids in building self-esteem. Along with releasing endorphins, 200 minutes of walking every week drastically improves energy levels, socialization, emotional stability and reduces symptoms of depression.
2. STRENGTHENS BONES AND TONES MUSCLES
Walking is an easy and efficient way to strengthen bones, tone muscles and reduce the risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures. For joints to be strong and at their best, they need to be moving constantly. Walking regularly gives the knee joints a workout while increasing muscle strength. This helps to tone calves, hamstrings, and glutes while stimulating healthy bones and joints. Remember to walk with intention - tighten your core, stand up straight and keep your arms moving by your sides for the best workout.
3. IMPROVES SLEEP
Walking has been connected to being able to fall asleep faster and sleeping more soundly, especially if you suffer from insomnia. A morning walk can be specifically more beneficial as the daylight aids in staying in tune with your natural circadian rhythms.
4. SPEEDS DIGESTION
If you rely on a coffee or drink to help things get moving, it’s actually more beneficial to go on a short walk instead. A study conducted in Germany found that a 15-minute walk after a meal helped speed up the rate at which food passed through the digestive tract. Walking after a meal is also linked to lower rates of heartburn and other reflux symptoms.
5. CONTROLS CRAVINGS & WEIGHT LOSS
If you have a sweet tooth or often reach for sugary treats as snacks, walking can actually deflect those cravings. Taking a 15-minute walk can cut chocolate consumption by half! This finding also applies to those who are prone to stress-eating. The more you walk, the easier it will become to lose inches, and even pounds, which will ultimately reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity. Although you can’t necessarily target a certain part of your body, walking and eating healthy can overtime reduce overall body fat percentage. So instead of feeding into those cravings, go for a stroll and if you’re still hungry, reach for a healthier alternative like NOLA ;)
The great thing about walking is that it doesn’t require being on a specific schedule or at a specific place. There is no class you need to sign up for or any hours of operation when it comes to walking. When and how you walk is completely up to you and your life. No matter where you are, you can go for a walk!
7. IMPROVED HEART HEALTH
Getting your blood pumping and raising your heart rate provides the perfect workout for your circulation system. Going on regular walks can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and keep your blood pressure in check. Walking can lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol) and can work to increase its high-density alternative HDL (the good cholesterol).
8. BEING SOCIAL
Walking is the perfect way to socialize with other people while burning calories. This not only provides a way for you to catch up with friends, but also encourages you to stay motivated and create accountability. With Covid-19 precautions in place, a walking date with a few of your closest friends is a great way to socialize while staying safe!
9. IMPROVES IMMUNITY
With cold and flu season approaching, it’s important to do everything you can to help you and your family stay healthy. By being proactive with consistent healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, taking immunity boosting nutrients and staying active. Walking for as little as 20 minutes a day for 5 days, can decrease your risk of taking a sick day by 43%! (Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School)
10. IT’S FREE!
Last but not least, walking is completely free! You can walk anywhere and at any time. Whether it’s in your own living room or at the park, you don’t need a membership to do it. The options are endless, so go get some steps in!