Most people in the modern world are driven to school as children and drive everywhere as adults and are basically sedentary. When the issue of exercise is raised they claim that they have no time or they cannot afford the gym fees. Why not start walking? Walking is a seriously underrated form of exercise, maybe because it looks so simple and it appears to be effortless. It is simple, of course, because it is easy to begin. It does not need any monthly gym fees and requires only a good pair of walking shoes. Take a look at the amazing health benefits of walking before brushing it aside.
People who walk long distances all their lives to grow food, fetch water and firewood and to go to the shops or the clinic or the bus stop are some of the fittest and slimmest people around and they have very strong hearts. Their rural life gives them no choice but to walk everywhere and they definitely reap the many benefits of walking without thinking about it. Sedentary people can enjoy the same benefits of walking by choice. Walking can help anyone to reach the recommended level of physical activity of 150 minutes per week, which is classified as moderate exercise. Anybody can incorporate regular walks into a busy lifestyle and they can basically walk anywhere, anytime. Some of the benefits of walking are listed below.
1. Walking is Easy to Begin
You can get the benefits of walking at no cost! There is no need for any special gear. Walking requires only a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a track suit (in cold weather) or shorts and a T-shirt (in warm weather). You can walk anywhere and any time. Walk to or from work, to or from the shops, around the block in the morning or after work, or even during your lunch hour at work. No gym fees!
2. Weight Loss
Walking forces the body to burn calories and that prevents weight gain. If you walk longer daily, you even burn fat off your body. The USA Department of Health claims that a 60kg person can walk for 30 minutes and burn 75 calories (if strolling at 2mph) or 99 calories (if walking 3mph) or 150 calories (if walking fast at 4mph). Imagine how much fat you can burn off your body if you dedicate an hour per day to brisk walking! This is one of the best benefits of walking! Naturally you also need to balance walking with eating less calories if losing weight is your goal.
3. Walking Boosts Fitness
Brisk walking which raises your heart rate and makes you slightly breathless and warm is a great form of aerobic exercise. At first you will be breathless because your heart is not used to working hard. As the heart is forced to work harder each time, it grows stronger, till you can even start jogging comfortably.
With regular walking the whole body becomes better at using oxygen and you will find it easier to be more active and tire less quickly.
4. Walking Improves the Mood
Just like any other form of physical activity, walking causes the release of endorphins, hormones that create a natural “high,“ creating changes in the brain that make you feel better and happier. With improved mood, stress and anxiety tend to melt away as well.
5. Walking Impoves Energy Levels
Never worry that walking will tire you, though you might feel tired in the first week. It looks like the more you use the body, the more energy the body generates for you. After the first week you will feel more energetic than your sedentary friends and colleagues.
6. Walking Can Prevent Diabetes and Other Chronic Diseases
Walking forces the body to burn blood sugar, meaning that the sugar will not affect the metabolism. That can prevent type 2 diabetes. Walking has also been found to prevent breast cancer and other chronic diseases as well. If the above benefits of walking did not impress you, this one should.
7. Walking is a Great Way to Travel
If you can walk to and from work, do it! You will have better control over your time and you can decide how fast you want to walk. You will stop worrying about late buses and trains and traffic jams and arrive at work feeling less stressed.
You can ask a friend or a colleague to join you and chat as you go. Alternatively, you will make new friends if you maintain a certain route and walking times. You will even look forward to your walks! The social side is one of the best benefits of walking!
8. Walking Improves Youthful Looks
Research published in PLOS One found that people who walk regularly look younger than others their age and they are younger at cellular level too. It does this by preserving, or even lengthening, the telomeres, the parts that protect our DNA. Of all the benefits of walking, this alone is enough motivation to start walking!
9. Walking Improves Sleep
Provided you do not do it close to bed time, walking will relax you and help you to sleep better.
10. Walking Reduces Joint and Strengthens Bones
Joints must keep moving and regular walking gives the knee joints a good workout. It also increases muscle strength and strengthens the bones. Because it is low impact, it is an excellent exercise for those who already have joint pain or osteoporosis.
As you can see, there are many benefits of walking! If you haven’t been active for a while, walking is one of the easiest ways to get started. Begin slowly, and gradually increase the speed and distance of your walks. Build walking into your daily routine so that it becomes a habit – that way it will be easier to keep it up. Walk to the shops instead of driving. Avoid the escalator and use the stairs instead. At lunch time get a takeaway and eat as you walk instead of sitting down.
You probably walk around 3000 steps per day anyway at home and at work. You can set an easy target like 5,000 steps per day for your first week, 6,000 steps per day for your second week, etc. till you can walk 10,000 steps per day. To keep track of the number of steps, download an app on your smartphone or buy a pedometer. And start walking!