Walking is a simple exercise that doesn’t require much preparation. You only need a good pair of shoes and a fairly good place to go. Yet, as simple as it seems, some doctors recommend walking as the best exercise for their patients because of the tons of health benefits walking can provide.
Some centenarians in a village in Italy even said walking is what kept them live longer. They shared how they reached the town from their tiny village on foot. At the time, they walked out of necessity. This time, they continued to walk to keep themselves energized, healthy, and lessen the risk of diseases.
Whether you want to live longer or keep yourself healthy, try walking for a month and reap the following benefits:
1. Keeps your heart in the best shape
If you follow a sedentary lifestyle, like sitting in the office for hours or watching TV for a longer period of time, you’re at a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases. The lack of proper blood circulation isn’t good for your heart. Try to take a walk every day for about thirty minutes to keep your blood flowing.
2. Boosts your mood
Walking can activate your feel-good hormones, making dark chocolate or red wine unnecessary when you’re going through a rough day. Because walking modifies your nervous system, your feelings of anger, disappointment, or hostility will decrease as you go out there and enjoy the fresh air. Walking is also the best way to drive those winter blues away.
3. Helps you lose weight
According to an experiment done by American scientists, 50% of obese participants who walked together around the city for 8 weeks, lost an average of 5 pounds. If you have excess weight, you don’t need other obese people to walk with you and lose that extra weight, unless you really want to. You can do it by going to your work or buying something on foot, as long as the destination isn’t that too far. James Altucher even says he’s confused why people drive 2 miles to the gym to walk 2 miles on a treadmill. What do you think?
4. Sparks your creative juices
In one study, researchers tested the creative thinking between people who walk and those who sit. They found out that people who’re thinking while walking showed more creativity compared to their sitting counterparts.
5. Reduces belly fat
Health experts say that walking on a daily basis burns calories and increases metabolism while preventing muscle loss. Walking also improves the body’s re response to insulin, thereby reducing belly fat.
6. Lowers blood pressure
In another study by Japan researchers, participants with mild hypertension who walked 10,000 steps a day for 12 weeks showed a significant drop in their blood pressure. What’s more interesting is, they’ve also shown increased stamina and energy. If you’re not suffering from hypertension, you don’t need to walk 10,000 steps a day. But you still have to aim to walk at least 30 minutes a day to keep your blood pressure in check.
7. Lowers risk of diabetes
Since walking regulates your body’s insulin levels, it lowers your blood sugar levels and decreases your risk of diabetes. If you’re suffering from type 2 Diabetes, scientists recommend aiming for 2,000 steps of a normal walk and 3,000 steps for a brisk walk to manage the disease.
8. Protects against cancer
Patients can be diagnosed with cancer for a lot of reasons. Some are preventable others are not. But some cancers developed due to poor lifestyle habits. Living a sedentary lifestyle is one of them. You can protect yourself from the risk of developing cancer by doing just this one simple exercise, walking. People with cancer who undergo treatments were also found to get some benefits from walking. The side effects of chemotherapy in them had significantly been reduced.
9. Prevents varicose veins
Varicose veins occur when people start to advance in age and when there’s poor circulation in the blood that goes down the legs. Walking helps the blood to flow smoothly back to the lungs and heart. To prevent yourself from developing the risk of varicose veins, exercise your legs through walking more. If varicose or spider veins run in the family, you’re at a greater risk of developing one. You can delay its onset when you walk regularly.
10. Tones and strengthens muscles
As people hit their 30’s, they’ll start to lose muscles. But this can be prevented when you exercise your muscles. Walking is the best exercise that not only strengthens your muscles but tones them as well. A daily walk at least 30 minutes a day is all you need to keep that muscle mass strong and toned.
11. Improves digestion
If you think your stomach has difficulty with digestion, refrain from reaching for that over the counter drug. Instead, take a walk for a few minutes. According to health experts, the gastric mobility of your stomach is improved when you take regular walks, one reason why patients who undergo abdominal surgery are advised to walk.
12. Boosts your immune system
Your immune system is your best defense against infections and diseases. While eating foods rich in antioxidants keeps your immune system to function well, it’s not enough when you only eat and don’t move. Walking can help all parts of your body to move, bolstering the activities of the immune cells and increasing the capacities of the body to heal itself faster.
13. Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
A loss of bone density comes with age. Older adults have weaker bones as they decrease their level of activities. A weaker bone is likely to lead to osteoporosis. But this can be prevented when you do exercises that strengthen bones, like walking. It’s a low impact exercise that can be done by older adults on a daily basis.
14. Improves cognitive functions
Aside from strengthening bones, walking can also help older adults to prevent dementia and improve their memory and cognitive functions.