Walking: health benefits and essentials

Health & Wellbeing – by Daniella Gray – Jan 17, 2023

Walking is one of the most accessible types of exercises out there – it’s free, you don’t need any equipment and it’s simple to find ways to add it to your day. Plus, studies show that the health benefits of walking long distances (or even just 20 minutes!) can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your memory. 

Let’s not forget about the social benefits of walking, too. Why not get together with a friend to catch up and increase your step count at the same time? Keen to know more? Walk with us! 

What are the health benefits of walking?

Ever thought that walking wasn’t a valid workout? Our experts would say otherwise. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that all physical activity is exercise and, just like other activities that get you moving, walking also helps the body produce happy endorphins. 

Ideal for those who are new to exercise, living with injuries, or perhaps not interested in vigorous exercise, a brisk walk can help transform a bad day into a good day by stimulating the production of serotonin – and as an added bonus, the benefits of brisk walking will also see a calorie burn of between 100-300 after around 30 minutes. 

A walk will help you to maintain a healthy weight

Depending on your current weight and fitness level, you can burn approximately 200-400 calories per hour when doing your local walks, which quickly adds up. Walking also leads to greater sugar uptake by the muscle cells, which in turn regulates your blood glucose levels, keeps your blood-sugar levels stable and helps you burn fat more efficiently.

Walking will tone your entire lower body

Going for a walk is the ideal way to tone your thighs, hamstrings, glutes and calves. During walks, try to find a route with a hill to really work your hamstrings and glutes. Alternatively, why not try a walk off-road? The uneven terrain will not only improve your agility but also activate more muscles in the body, including your core – and the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories even at rest.

Walking is gentle on your joints

Walking is considered to be a low-impact exercise that’s accessible to almost everyone, no matter what age or fitness level. Low-impact exercise has a lower injury risk and is great for older people, so everyone can be consistent with their training, which is key when it comes to regular physical exercise.

A walk boosts your mental wellbeing

Ever wondered why you hold weight on your tummy despite all your hard work trying to exercise it off? It could be down to too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes the body to hold on to fat.

A good way to reduce these pesky stress hormones is by getting some fresh air and soaking up some natural vitamin D while walking – a great health benefit from being outside. 

In fact, studies show that walking helps to improve your mood and may even ward off anxiety and depression, especially when you go strolling in a soothing environment such as a beach or park. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or bogged down, take a break, lace up your trainers and go for a walk.
 
Walking is good for the heart

Walking raises your heart rate and improves blood flow. It also strengthens the heart and lowers your blood pressure; all of which reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. A regular stroll can even lower your risk of diabetes and, amazingly, trigger an anti-aging effect, which can help repair old DNA and slow down the aging process!

This is how walking boosts your mental wellbeing

It’s not just the physical benefits that walking provides: our mental health gets a boost, too. As we know, the advantages to outdoor exercise are three-fold: reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood and a deeper connection to nature. “Simply being outside has a positive effect on your mental health,” says Dr Courtney Kipps, consultant in sport and exercise medicine at the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health (ISEH). “Exercising outdoors magnifies these effects and is therefore ideal for relieving anxiety, stress and depression.” 

Dr Flaminia echoes this, as she claims going for a walk is a sure-fire way to get your brain into action. “Research also shows that exercise can boost cognition; for example your creativity, memory and speed. So, if you need to figure out a new strategy for an upcoming project or prepare to study a new topic at work, take a walk before getting back to the books.”

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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