Walking is underrated. It doesn’t always get the respect that it deserves. The benefits of walking every day are many: By walking regularly, you can greatly support your health, contribute to your vitamin D needs, and burn calories. You can’t go wrong by making aerobic exercise and regular walking a part of your routine.
Walking is also among the lowest-risk exercises that you can do: It is free, it does not require expensive training, and it doesn’t require knowing any specific skills.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of having a daily walking routine.
The Benefits Of Walking Every Day
Walking has been shown to be immensely beneficial to your heart health. Did you know that walking regularly may reduce the risk of heart-related health events by 31%?1 Furthermore, walking mitigates heart-health risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, and blood sugar regulation.2
Walking is typically considered moderately intense (especially when you are walking for the purpose of exercise). Your breathing and heart rate are noticeably faster than when you are at rest but you can still carry on a conversation. Walking briskly roughly correlates to a 15-minute mile.3
A Daily Walk At A Moderate Pace Burns Calories
Numerous studies have shown that walking has many benefits over other physical activity. Did you know that it’s a simple and accessible way to promote weight loss among people who are overweight or obese?4
If you want to lose weight, cutting back on calories is crucial. Besides eating fewer calories, certain activities will accomplish the task as well. Of course, if you just sit still for an hour, you will burn about 134 calories per hour (based on an average body weight of 170 lbs). But there are more efficient ways to burn your body’s fuel, in increasing order of caloric burn per hour:5
- Sitting still: 134 calories (for comparison)
- Standing up: 206 calories
- Walking moderately: 296 calories
- Walking briskly: 341 calories6,7
Of course, the number of calories you’ll actually burn doing the above activities can vary greatly depending on your gender, body weight, and other factors. However, you can see that taking a daily walk at a moderate pace is nearly 3X as efficient as simply sitting. Although walking does not burn calories in the same way as running, a 15-minute speed walk at 5 mph will burn about the same number – 168 – as taking a 15-minute slow jog at 5 mph.8,9 The number of calories burned will increase with the amount of physical exertion.
Regular Brisk Walking And Physical Activity Supports Blood Flow
Regular moderate exercise, in the form of walking, is an excellent way to maintain your health.10 It is also an excellent way to temporarily get your heart rate up above its resting rate a little bit each day. This enables your body to circulate oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your muscles in a more efficient way.11
In addition to walking, there are other exercises of moderate intensity that get your heart rate up. These include running, swimming, climbing stairs, tennis, dancing, and even certain household chores, such as raking leaves.12
Among people with high blood pressure, regular exercise induces a decrease in resting blood pressure, along with an increase in blood flow.13
Varicose veins are an unsightly problem that usually afflicts women more than men. They look like twisted and enlarged reddish or bluish veins under the skin. Some people develop these unsightly veins from the accumulated pressure of standing or sitting for too long. Walking is a good option to alleviate this problem because it keeps blood moving in your legs.14 Taking regular walks may also reduce the chance that your veins will become varicose in the first place.15
Support Weight Loss And Muscle Gain
Helps Maintain Muscle Activity And Strength
Why is walking so popular? It is safe and simple, it requires no specific training equipment, and it does not cause undue stress to the body. On the other hand, walking has very little effect on muscle strength or your body’s ability to get oxygen to the muscles.
Furthermore, as you age, your body loses muscle mass. As a result, the amount of daily physical activity that you do may fall. In older adults, this can result in poor or declining health.
Walking on its own does not do very much to improve this muscle strength and mass. However, an exercise called slow walking with turns does show the ability to preserve and maintain the muscle activity of the quadriceps and spinal muscles. The turns increase the “workload of walking” to specifically benefit the trunk and lower limbs. These are the body parts that are needed to maintain an independent lifestyle.16
Lose Weight And Reduce Sugar Cravings
Another walking benefit has to do with sugar. Snacking on high-calorie foods like chocolate can lead to weight gain over time. As it turns out, regularly taking short, 15-minute walks(especially after dinner) may help reduce sweet cravings and the consumption of sugary snacks.17,18 So next time you get that sudden urge for sweets, try taking a walk instead. You’ll likely notice the craving disappear.
Help With Back Pain, Stress, And More
With our sedentary lifestyle, physical inactivity has become a risk factor in the rise of the incidence of lower back pain. One antidote to the development of many musculoskeletal conditions is regular physical activity. Of the remedies, walking is among the most common exercises. Walking has been found to lower the risk of lower back pain.19
In our overworked culture, stress can be damaging to the minds and bodies of many people. Low to moderate intensity exercise has been found to work as a means for managing stress. It does so by enhancing feelings of pleasure and regulating emotions.20 In particular, taking a walk outdoors among green spaces may reduce the feeling of stress.21
Bone And Joint Strength
Bone loss increases with age, particularly with women. Walking by itself probably does not stimulate bone mass or increase bone mineral density. However, regular speedy walking with a sufficient level of mechanical stress on the body does reduce the rate of its progressive loss at both the lumbar and femoral vertebrae.22
Vitamin D is also involved in musculoskeletal health. This vitamin acts to improve bone density by enabling the bones to absorb phosphorus and calcium. According to a study, people who are vitamin D deficient are slower walkers than those who have higher amounts of this vitamin.23
Similarly, walking can help strengthen joints hampered by pain, swelling, and inflexibility. It might initially appear as though exercise would cause a flare-up or worsen this condition. Luckily, aerobic movements such as brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, and dancing are therapeutic because they don’t put too much stress on the affected body areas. The physical activity has positive effects. These activities improve one’s quality of life while managing to relieve some pain. In general, it is best to ask your doctor first before embarking on a fitness routine.24
More Than Just For Heart And Muscles: Brain Health And Circulation
It’s fairly well understood that walking is good for your heart health and muscles. But there may even be cognitive benefits to walking. One recent study found that walking at least one mile per day may reduce cognitive impairment by about 50%.25
Brisk walking is especially beneficial. Interestingly, the impact that the feet make while walking sends waves of pressure through the arteries. This movement supports blood circulation to the brain. This also occurs with running. It does not happen with cycling, because the feet are not involved in any impact.26,27
Walk This Way – Or That Way: The Physical Activity Will Do You Good
It doesn’t matter where you walk, when you walk, who you walk with, or what you wear while you walk. Walking in a business suit or a sweatsuit, in an office hallway or outdoor pathway, on the street or in the park: Every step you take is moving your health in the right direction. Try to incorporate walking into your daily routine. You might start by taking a walk after dinner each night or parking further from the office. If you decide to start an entirely new exercise routine, just make sure to get your doctor’s approval first. Your health will thank you!
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