Walking Benefits Your Health: According to science, it’s one of the simplest and most effective methods to keep your brain, heart, and joints healthy.
Ways Walking Benefits Your Health
Walking Benefits Your Health: Every step you take benefits your health more than you may know. Every aspect of your body benefits from your brain to your ankles when you walk. What’s the best part? To improve your health and feel better psychologically and physically, you don’t have to run laps around your neighborhood for 45 minutes. Even a daily ten-minute stroll can provide significant results. Here are the top research-backed health advantages you’ll gain from adding a bit extra walking to your daily routine (remember to pick up a pair of excellent walking shoes before you get started!).
1. Walking decreases your chances of developing heart disease.
Shirley Rietdyk, Ph.D., professor of health and kinesiology at Purdue University, says, “The heart is a muscle, and the greatest way to develop your muscle is by training and going out and being active.” That’s presumably why there’s so much study on the potential heart-health advantages of exercise, especially walking.
Women who walked the most had an 11 percent reduced risk of high blood pressure than those who walked the least, and those who walked the quickest had a 21 percent lower chance than those who walked the slowest, according to a study of over 80,000 postmenopausal women. However, you don’t have to walk long distances to get the benefits.
According to Joaquin U. Gonzales, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology at Texas Tech University, “people who are concerned about their risk of heart disease should be aware that increasing their daily walk by 1,000 steps can result in a 5 to 20% reduction in risk for cardiovascular illness and death.”
2. Walking can help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
“Walking has the capacity to enhance glucose control and reduce 24-hour blood sugar levels for patients who are concerned about diabetes,” Gonzales adds. According to a study conducted by George Washington University, those who walked for 15 minutes after each meal had a lower blood sugar level than those who walked for 45 minutes.
Walking Benefits Your Health: The reason behind this is that walking activates many different parts of your body at the same time. “When all of these tissues (neurons, the heart, and muscles) are engaged, blood arteries that provide nutrients to each tissue widen, resulting in increased blood flow,” Gonzales adds. “The increased blood flow stimulates the dilated arteries to stay healthy by delivering glucose to the brain, heart, and muscle for fuel. That’s why brief sessions of two minutes every 20 minutes of walking can assist the body reduce blood sugar after a meal.” Blood sugar levels that are stable can help prevent diabetes and curb sugar cravings.
3. Walking can assist you in living a longer life.
“Long-term studies suggest that persons who walk frequently (five or more days per week) live up to four years longer than their sedentary counterparts,” Gonzales adds. “Recent research in American women found that doing as few as 4,400 steps per day reduces the chance of mortality, with higher step counts generating larger health benefits.” According to Riemsdyk, this might be because physical exercise puts a strain on your heart, lungs, brain, muscles, and bones. She argues that our bodies gain from the activity, unlike machines that break down as they are used more.
4. Walking can help you sleep better.
Better sleep may not be the first advantage that comes to mind when you think about walking, but it does help — even if you only get it at the end of the day. According to studies, persons who walk in the morning or evening report sleeping better than those who do not exercise at all.
Riemsdyk frequently works with elderly individuals who struggle to keep active, and he promotes better sleep as a reason to get out and walk. “One of the things I’ll discuss is the short-term advantage, which is that you’ll feel better after you’ve finished exercising, and then you’ll sleep better at night, which means you’ll have a better mood tomorrow, which means you’ll be more inclined to exercise again,” she adds. “As you exercise more, you start to notice these longer-term advantages like cognitive capacity and balance, as well as a whole cascade of other things like heart health.”
5. Walking is a great way to burn calories.
If you want to lose weight by walking, keep in mind that walking, like other types of physical exercise, burns calories – and the study suggests that walking for 150 minutes per week can help reduce belly fat. If you don’t have much time, you may increase your calorie burn by adding high-intensity intervals to your walk: Warm up for a few minutes before alternating between brisk walking and walking as quickly as you can.
Another alternative is to tone your arms and legs at the same time by using ski-like poles. According to one research, you might feel a bit silly at first, but you’ll burn 20% more calories than if you didn’t use the poles. Your upper-body strength and lower-body flexibility will also improve.
Are you unsure what equipment to purchase? Nordic walking poles with non-slip tips are a good investment. To avoid injury, see a professional before using them, just as you would with any other piece of workout equipment. “I would advise a person to speak with a professional, such as a physical therapist, about whether or not that would be beneficial to them, and then receive adequate instruction on how to use them,” Rietdyk adds. “Even with canes and walkers, if they’re not utilized correctly, they can cause falls.”
6. Walking improves mental acuity.
“Recent studies have shown that frequent walking increases brain growth in older individuals, enhances cognitive function, and is beneficial in treating various mental disorders like depression,” Gonzales adds. Walking even boosts creativity by 60%, according to Stanford University research. According to one hypothesis, exercise increases blood flow to the brain, operating more effectively. Riemsdyk further points out that walking enables your brain to practice making a variety of judgments that you may not be aware of, such as where to position your feet when approaching a curb, whether to go around other walkers, which path to take, and if you need to hurry up to cross a street. “These judgments may not appear to be tough, but there appears to be some advantage to making them,” Rietdyk adds. In a similar vein, she claims that some studies show that walking with a partner might assist you in resolving issues jointly.
7. Walking can help you keep your mobility.
“Because quality of life is probably more important than length of life,” Gonzales adds. “It is equally essential to emphasize that walking extends the time older individuals live without the need for walking assistance or suffering from a disability”. Walking can sometimes help avoid mobility difficulties from growing worse, even if you already have them. According to Northwestern University research, persons with osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, ankle, or foot who walked 60 minutes briskly every week had a substantially reduced chance of being disabled than their sedentary counterparts.
Walking is good for your immune system.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the epidemic, it’s the importance of having a healthy immune system. Walking (and moderate-intensity exercise in general) appears to aid in the development of immune cells in our bodies that target and eliminate infections. As a result, persons who walk daily are less likely to become critically ill from diseases and spend less time in the hospital.
9. Walking helps you maintain your equilibrium.
Walking Benefits Your Health: When we’re younger, we take balance for granted. But it becomes increasingly critical as we become older to avoid falling. Furthermore, walking, fortunately, is a good method to maintain your balance abilities. It’s because when you walk, “you’re collecting sensory input. This is about where you are in space from your inner ear, your eyesight. Also, where your muscles, your joints, and your touch receptors, and you have to respond to that,” Rietdyk adds. “When you’re upright doing anything versus, example, on a stationary bike or performing exercises in a sitting posture, your balance is more challenged.”