How Regular Walking Can Boost your Health and Well-being
Walking is a natural exercise that many of us can enjoy on a daily basis, but have you taken the time to stop and think about all the benefits you can enjoy from simply going for a walk?
This blog will reveal 10 benefits of walking for your health. Walking is great for your health and can help to improve wellness even if you just walk a 15 – 20 minutes a day.
The simple truth about walking for fitness
Unlike other exercises such as aerobics, running or weight lifting, walking isn’t as strenuous. It doesn’t put stress on your muscles and joints provided you take it in your stride and not rush the process.
You can walk at your own pace and enjoy your environment around you, breathing in the fresh air into your lungs as you go.
Walking is easy, and there isn’t an age limit, from very young, to senior folks can enjoy this natural fit activity.
Top 10 benefits of walking for your health
- Promotes heart health
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Can assist with weight loss
- Improves blood circulation
- Strengthens your bones
- Better digestion
- Improves your sleep
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves memory
- Anti-ageing benefits
1. Promotes heart health
Walking is a great cardio workout and a heart-healthy exercise. When your heart pumps blood through your body, essential nutrients and oxygen are transported to the rest of your organs.
When you raise your heart rate doing a cardiovascular workout such as a walk, it allows for more efficient distribution of nutrients and oxygen as the heart beats faster. During the process, it lowers bad cholesterol (Low-density Lipoprotein) and promotes good cholesterol (High- Density Lipoprotein).
2. Helps control blood sugar levels
Brisk walks help to improve and manage insulin levels in the body. This can help control blood sugar levels and keep your energy consistent throughout the day.
3. Can assist with weight loss
4. Improves blood circulation
Walking improves blood circulation. Blood circulation is very important, as the heart pumps blood it is distributed to the other vital organs to support activity and health.
Poor blood circulation can cause many negative side effects including blood clots, feet and hand swelling, digestive problems, fatigue, and joint pain. Those are just some of the many issues when suffering from poor blood circulation.
5. Strengthens your bones
It may seem strange that walking can benefit your bones, but indeed, it does. In fact, as we age, our bones become weaker and for some even brittle.
With walking exercises, the load your weight places onto your leg bones cause them to become stronger. Walking is also a good way to promote adequate bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
6. Better digestion
Walking helps your body with the process of digestion, and pairing this exercise with a healthy balanced diet rich in fibre will ease digestive problems. Walking an hour after eating also helps you burn some excess calories.
7. Improves your sleep
Regular walking can help you sleep more soundly at night and even help improve insomnia. If you are able to,
8. Boosts the immune system
With a weak immune system, you’re susceptible to colds and flu, as well as other infectious diseases.
Walking is good for your immune system as it helps flush out toxins plus vital organs are able to function better as essential nutrients are distributed in the body.
9. Improves memory
Neurologically speaking, exercise including walking helps to improve memory function. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk of developing neurological conditions such as dementia.
Exercising also helps improve your memory and is thus healthy for your body and mind. Studies showed that people who walked regularly reduced the risk of memory loss related to age as the hippocampus (memory area of the brain) increased in size.
10. Anti-ageing benefits
Yep, walking delays
Paired with a healthy diet, these all lead to positive health support for your body and its ability to function properly.
Anti-ageing tip: Be sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect against wrinkles on your face.
How to start a walking regimen
You may not be able to do this daily but you can work your way towards implementing walking into your lifestyle.
First things first:
- Opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Walk to close-by destinations instead of hopping into the car.
- Take your dog for a walk as this gives you an”excuse” to walk.
- For unimportant communication, rather walk to your colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.
- If you travel by public transport, you can opt to get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way home.
Even small changes such as those mentioned in the above pointers can go a long way to adopting a walking-healthy lifestyle.
Adding a challenge
If you want to “up the pace” or difficulty when walking, then try some brisk walking. Walking along the beach will also help as the sand makes it harder to move swiftly.
You can also add light leg weights and even arm weights before tackling your walking route. And don’t forget how tough it is to walk up hills!
Even if you are a fitness fanatic, don’t discount walking from your activities. Walking is a great “active recovery” exercise that helps ease stiffness the day after a hard workout in the gym.
Walk with others
It’s ok to walk by yourself, and many people enjoy the meditative quality a walk can bring to their day. Others like to catch up with audio books or listen to podcasts or music while they walk.
However, walking with a friend or a group of people makes it even more fun and motivational. Surrounding yourself with people who support your health decisions is a fantastic way to get into healthy shape.
Consider starting a walking group in your neighbourhood.
Practice safety first
Your residential area may seem safe and secure, but
If you can only manage to walk in the earlier hours of the morning when the roads are a bit empty and quiet, then take your dog with. Not only will your K-9 friend be happy for the outing, but also he or she will be able to keep you safe if anything negative were to happen. You can also walk with someone, say your partner or friend or even a walking-buddy or fitness trainer. Either way, practicing safety is paramount.
- Stay hydrated
- Speak to your medical practitioner if you suffer from any health conditions
- Check the weather forecast to make sure that you’re wearing the right clothes.
- NB: Ensure that you wear bright clothes and ideally reflective items as well to ensure that you are highly visible on the road.
- Inform loved ones that you are heading out for a walk, what area you’ll be in and roughly when you are expected to return.
- If you have specific health conditions, then take all necessary precaution. For example, if you are asthmatic, carry your inhaler. Likewise take your allergy pen if you suffer from allergies.
What to eat before and after your walk
Before your walk
Eat appropriately, preferably 1 to 2 hours before you start your exercise. A low-fat breakfast means you’ll be able to do light to heavy workout. The aim is not to put too much pressure on your stomach.
Some people prefer to walk in a fasted state, and this is generally safe for most healthy people to do.
After your walk
Have a protein-rich breakfast, as the protein will help replenish your muscles with what it needs to rebuild.
In essence, carbohydrates and protein in their correct amounts are what the muscles need to function without fatigue. Therefore, these are good foods for exercising.
Bonus perks of walking
- Walking improves your mood as it lowers stress levels
- Strengthens muscles
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
- Lowers the risk of stroke
- Improves balance
Don’t forget that when it comes to walking, you should dress the part. Wear the right clothes that allow for breathability, whilst keeping you cool and not too hot or too cold. When the seasons are changing, it’s ideal to dress in layers so that you can add or remove items depending on the weather.
Another crucial thing to remember is to invest in good shoes. You want your feet to feel comfortable and reduce the risk of sore feet or injuries, so make sure you get yourself some comfy walking shoes or trainers.
Walking is easy and requires only the will to do it. You can make it fun by taking it up a notch and walking local hike trails or walking trails, walking with family and or friends or join a fitness club and let the fun begin.
Going for a walk is a great way to enjoy your own meditative time, take in the scenery and even enjoy the company of others.