Walking is something we all do every day. Unfortunately, many of us go out of our way minimize any unnecessary movement. If you’ve ever been dropped off in front of the grocery store while your significant other circles the parking lot, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Rather than doing our best to walk as little as possible, we need to be striving to walk as much as possible. Why? Because walking is good for you, simple as that. Hippocrates said it best, “Walking is man’s best medicine.”
Aside from the fact that there’s no learning curve, you can do it anywhere and it’s free, I have a few more reasons you need to walk every day.
It will open the flood gates. Creative flood gates that is. When you get hung up on a problem, business plan, or even a blog post, go for a walk! A study performed at Stanford University found that walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after. You’ll get an even bigger creative boost if you take your stroll outside.
It will make you stronger. Weights aren’t the only thing that will build those precious tissues in our body. Regular weight bearing exercise, such as walking, is exactly what your bones and muscles need to stay strong. As we age, both of these tissues like to try and pack it up early, but walking every day will help maintain bone and muscle mass.
Your heart will thank you. Walking calls upon muscles throughout your entire body, all of which need extra blood to do their job. As the demand for blood goes up, your heart has to kick it up a notch. The American Heart Association notes, walking can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes (all of which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke) as much as running. Maybe that tortoise was on to something.
Your jeans will release their stranglehold. Walking on a regular basis will improve your body’s response to insulin, which just so happens to also reduce belly fat. The simple act of walking is one of the best actions you can take to mobilize fat, particularly in the abdominal area. Oh, and did I mention because walking engages your core muscles, it also gets things moving in the intestinal tract. This should take some of the pressure off of your morning coffee to get the job done.
Your joints will feel better. Our joints rely on surrounding synovial fluid for nutrients and oxygen. The mild impact on our joints provided by walking forces the exchange of oxygen and nutrients in the synovial fluid, giving your joints what they need. Non-mobile joints are, essentially, starved of the good stuff, leading to increased stiffness and pain. Walking regularly also keeps the surrounding muscles strong, which keeps the stress on the joint itself to a minimum.
It gives your brain a boost. Alzheimer’s and mental decline are very real threats as we age; allow walking to be your secret weapon in your fight to keep mental clarity. It is believed that the increased blood flow that accompanies physical activities such as walking, improves blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which, in turn, improves the development and function of neurons. A study published in Neurology looked at 749 subjects age 65 and over, and found those who walked regularly had a 70-75 percent lower risk of developing vascular dementia.
A walk a day keeps a smile on your face. Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? Well, it’s not just runners who are privy to that little perk. Exercise in general, including walking, is known to boost the body’s endorphins – chemicals released by the body following specific types of stimuli that reduce your pain perception and boost your mood. As reported by Harvard Medical School “Exercise and Depression”, walking fast for at least 30 minutes per day five days per week or 60 minutes three days per week has a significant influence on mild to moderate depression symptoms.
This isn’t new information, humans have known for some time that movement, walking in particular, is a necessary component of health. So what are you waiting for? Get outside and enjoy some fresh air and amazing health benefits.