It’s a simple activity that a number of us do daily, and although some of the benefits of walking are obvious, they’re rarely discussed. It’s a great exercise and can improve your overall wellbeing. Here we look at some of the strongest benefits.
The most common benefits of walking are the physical benefits. Taking regular brisk walks can reduce heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There are cardiovascular benefits, it helps to regulate blood sugar and also lowers blood pressure. The activity can also strengthen your bones and muscles. The faster and the more frequent you walk the greater are the benefits.
Other physical benefits include helping to alleviate symptoms of pre-existing conditions such as knee osteoarthritis. A study in Arthritis Care & Research showed that walking regularly can help improve the joints of people of those with knee osteoarthritis. Not only this, but walking has also been associated in previous studies with lower risk of back pain, breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The new findings are from a study of almost 140,000 people participating in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.
Walking reduces stress levels by releasing endorphins into your system – reconnect with the body, being outdoors – sun, rain and air and it can improve your overall mood. It can also reduce self-perception and self-esteem.
5 ways that walking can help your emotional wellbeing:
- Reducing stress: If you’re having an especially stressful day, going for a walk outdoors is a great way to calm and clear your mind. When the mind has less to focus on (cars, people, etc.) there is more head space available for reflection and meditation. Studies have shown that being outdoors in general reduces stress, and walking as with any exercise releases stress-reducing endorphins.
- Boosting creativity: A Sanford study found that walking, even on a treadmill indoors, made individuals twice as likely to produce creative responses compared to people who were sitting.
- Increasing energy: A UGA study found that when individuals with sedentary lifestyles engaged in just 20-minutes of low or moderate intensity exercises, such as walking, their energy increased by 20 percent and fatigue levels dropped by 65 percent, when compared to individuals who did not exercise at all.
- Increasing self-esteem: Regular walking can strengthen your heart and bones, reduce anxiety and fatigue, keep your body in shape, increase energy and endorphins, and therefore leave you feeling pretty good about yourself.
- Better sleep: Walking boosts the body’s release of sleep hormones like melatonin. Thirty minutes of walking a day can help prime your brain for better sleep. Whilst other physical activities have their benefits, several experts have concluded that when it comes to more restful sleep, walking is superior to many other forms of physical activity such as basketball or tennis.