The seasons are changing. The air is getting cooler and the leaves are turning. One of the best ways to enjoy and embrace fall is by going on walks to enjoy nature at its finest. Why walking? Because walking is a great way to improve and maintain your overall health. It offers a plethora of health benefits to all ages and demographics. It can even help prevent certain diseases. The best part about walking is that it’s free and for most, an easy thing to add to their daily routine. But what are the other benefits of walking? And why should you walk more?
Physical activity doesn’t have to include hours upon hours “going hard” at the gym. Walking is an exercise that is extremely low in impact and only requires a pair of shoes. You can walk at any time of the day and go as quickly (or slowly) as you need. Just 30 minutes a day can increase a person’s cardiovascular fitness and strengthen bones. It can help reduce body fat and even increase endurance. Walking is great for your heart and can even help you avoid type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
How to Build More Walking into Your Life
We know that for some people, asking you to carve out 30+ minutes each day isn’t necessarily feasible. Here are some suggestions on how to add more walking into your daily life.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift (for at least part of the way)
- Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home
- Park further away from work or when you shop
- If it’s safe and doable, walk to the local shops
- Walk the dog (or your neighbor’s dog)
Another way to make walking a consistent component of your life is to make it fun and interesting. Our tips include:
- Trying new walking routes – this includes going to parks, bodies of water, and walking trails
- Find a walking buddy or join a walking group/club
- Practice mindfulness and be aware of the sights and sounds around you
- Try walking at different times of the day – a morning walk and an evening walk can be completely different, even on the same route
The Benefits of Walking
One. Burn Calories and Promote Weight-Loss
As walking is a form of physical activity, it’s a great way to help you burn calories and maintain/lose weight. Walking does not burn the same number of calories per person however, so it’s important to think about a few factors. These factors include walking speed, distance, terrain (i.e. hills vs flat ground), and your weight.
Two. Eases Joint Pain
Think back to elementary science and Newton’s Laws of Motion. “An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” The more you walk, the more lubrication and strengthening the muscles that support your joints undergo. Meaning the more you move now, the easier it’s going to be to move later. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place.
Three. Boost in Immune Function
Fall is known as the time when the flu begins to strike. But did you know walking can help protect you during cold and flu season? It’s been shown numerous times that when you go on daily walks, you’re not just increasing your physical health but also your immune health. If you want to prevent catching this year’s nasty cold or flu, try incorporating walks into your daily routine to keep you in tip-top immune fighting shape!
Four. Help Lower Blood Sugar and Reduce Cravings
Yes, you read that right. One of the benefits of walking is that it can actually help reduce cravings. Next time you’re tempted by a craving, take a brisk walk around the block to help dampen that strong urge.
Short walks after eating can also help lower blood sugar. A small study found that taking a 15-minute walk three times a day (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner) improved blood sugar levels more than taking a 45-minute walk at another point during the day.
Five. Boost Energy and Mood
Next time you need a 3:00 pm pick-up, try trading your afternoon coffee for a walk! Walking helps increase the amount of oxygen within the body. The low-impact exercise can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These are the hormones that help boost energy levels.
Walking can also help regulate your mental health! StudiesTrusted Source shows it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.
Bonus Benefits of Walking
Are you suffering from a mental block of some kind? Next time you’re stumped or can’t seem to get your creative juices flowing, walking may be the best option to help you clear your head. A study that included four experiments compared people trying to think of new ideas while they were walking or sitting. Researchers found participants did better while walking, particularly while walking outdoors. Walking helps you relax, which allows ideas to begin to free flow in that fabulous brain of yours. Next time the group is stuck on a problem at work, suggest a quick walk around the office or in an outside communal space – you just might save the day.
Walking for 30 minutes a day or more on most days of the week is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. And walking with others can turn exercise into an enjoyable social occasion. If you’re someone that is looking to get back into physical activity, walking is the best option as it’s low impact, able to be done anywhere, requires little equipment, and best of all, it’s FREE!
Zock Chiropractic Would Love to Help!
If you need help in adding more walking to your life, Dr. Zock would love to discuss your thoughts and concerns. She can evaluate your body mechanics and help you decide what kind of shoe can help you keep your body (and back) healthy and pain-free! So, end 2019 off on the right foot. Make an appointment in Cranberry to schedule an introductory session and provide you with a happy and healthy 2019!
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.