Trying to meet your daily step goal? Walking is one of the best exercises to help enhance your physical and mental health. From reducing the risk of chronic disease to supporting the maintenance of healthy body weight, everyone who's able to can benefit from walking. Whether you walk outdoors or indoors on a treadmill, implementing a daily walk is a simple way to improve your health and well-being.
1. Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease
The physical benefits of walking daily are beneficial for people of any age. Many studies suggest that regular walking can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, research suggested that those who walked daily had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who did not walk regularly. If you're looking for an easy way to help support your long-term health, a daily walk is a great option!
According to the American Diabetes Association, walking at a brisk pace can help improve blood sugar levels and enhance insulin sensitivity. In turn, this can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by supporting healthy blood sugar regulation. Taking a walk following a meal can also help support healthy blood sugar levels and improve digestion.
2. Lowers Stress
While many people begin walking regularly for the physical benefits it brings, walking is also a great stress-relieving activity. Research shows that walking promotes the release of specific chemicals in the brain known as endorphins. Endorphins can help promote feelings of relaxation and improve overall mood. Both slow, moderate-paced walking and power walking can produce these stress-lowering effects.
When possible, walking outdoors can be even more beneficial for lowering stress. Spending time in nature can reduce blood pressure, muscle tension, and the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Even just a short, 20-minute walk on your lunch break or before work can make a big difference in helping manage your stress levels.
3. Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
Walking daily is one of the most effective ways to regularly burn calories. This is why regular exercise, such as a daily walk, can help you maintain a healthy body weight. The number of calories burned from walking will depend on your walking speed, distance covered, and type of terrain. However, on average, a 150 lb person will burn around 100 calories by walking one a mile.
If you're looking to lose weight, ramping up the intensity and duration of your walk can help you burn even more fat.
If walking outdoors is not an option, walking on an incline on a treadmill is a great alternative for any weather. Remember, if you struggle to fit in a 45-minute to 60-minute walk in your busy schedule, you can always take shorter walks throughout the day. Even a brisk 10-minute daily walk offers many health benefits, according to the NHS in the UK.
4. Boost Energy Levels
Feeling sluggish after lunchtime? Try taking a short, brisk walk to ramp your energy levels. Walking increases oxygen flow throughout the body, helping you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. On top of this, walking releases hormones to elevate your energy levels, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. In fact, one study published in Physiology and Behavior even suggested that walking may be more effective at boosting energy levels than a cup of coffee!
If you've been feeling depleted of energy, try incorporating brief walks throughout the day to help maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day. After a short walk, you'll feel ready to tackle the rest of the day's tasks!
5. Ease Joint Pain
Conditions like arthritis that cause stiff joints can leave you feeling defeated and uncomfortable. Nearly 1 in 4 American adults suffer from conditions that cause joint pain. If you suffer from joint pain, consider incorporating a daily walk into your routine. Walking has been shown to help protect the joints, including the hips and knees.
Walking helps lubricate joints and strengthen muscles surrounding the joints, thereby reducing strain and potentially lowering inflammation levels. For those experiencing joint pain, walking is the perfect low-intensity exercise to help manage chronic pain without causing further injury. One study published in Clinical Interventions of Aging suggested that walking programs can improve symptoms of joint pain and improve the quality of life for individuals with chronic joint pain.
Starting a Walking Protocol
Ready to take advantage of the amazing health benefits of a daily walk? Creating a routine by walking at the same time each day can help you develop a habit that will last a lifetime. Walking can help decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases, maintain healthy body weight, lower stress, boost energy levels, and ease joint pain.
Take control of your health and start walking to improve your physical and mental health.