For many of us, walking doesn't seem like anything special. It's just something we do every day. But walking is one of the best forms of exercise out there.
Thousands of studies have shown that this simple form of movement has a wealth of wide-ranging benefits, including better mental and physical, increased mindfulness, and enhanced communication skills.
Here are several things everyone should know about this simple, yet beneficial, form of exercise.
It improves your health
Walking regularly can help you lose weight; lower your blood pressure and cholesterol; and reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; among other benefits. For example, walking just two and a half hours a week, or just under 22 minutes a day, could reduce your risk of heart disease by an impressive 30%.
It improves memory and cognitive capability
Numerous studies have shown a link between walking and a greater amount of grey matter in the brain which could lessen the risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
It boosts your mood and lowers stress
Walking calms anxiety and enhances your mood especially if you're walking outside in nature.
It strengthens your muscles, bones, and joints.
Your leg and abdominal muscles get a workout when you walk, as do your arms if you're pumping them or using trekking poles. Your bones benefit too as walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which is great for building bone strength. And as you walk, your motion helps bring oxygen and nutrients into your joint cartilage, which has no direct blood supply.
It is energizing, yet also helps you sleep
A walking regimen helps boost your energy levels but also helps with insomnia.
It's a safe, easy exercise for newbies
Walking is also safe with one of the lowest exercise injury rates.
It can also be a vigorous workout
You can easily increase the intensity level by simply alternating a few minutes of easy strolling with intense bursts. You can also walk with hand or ankle weights or strap on a loaded backpack. Another option is walking on hills.
It can build family bonds
Heading out for a stroll with your partner and children can enhance communication and foster better relationships.
It can develop stronger community bonds
Studies have shown that people walking around the community is a great way to get to know your neighbours and build new social connections.
It is free and can be done anywhere
There's no need to join a pricey gym to walk. Just put on your shoes and head out the door. If the weather's bad then look for an indoor place, such as a mall or school, that offers community walking time. You can even walk around your house.