The Health Benefits of Walking as Exercise
There are many health benefits to walking, and it is far and the most accessible, easy, and enjoyable exercise there is. There’s nothing like a good walk in fresh air to lift your spirits and get your blood flowing. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, a safe and pleasant route, and a source of hydration to get started.
While it may seem facile, walking as exercise is nothing to scoff at. This low-impact aerobic exercise really does come with a host of health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health to boosted immune function. There are also plenty of ways to change your routine to make it more challenging, from varying your walking speed to covering increased distances and more difficult terrain.
Read on to discover the health benefits of walking as exercise.
1. ENHANCED PHYSICAL SHAPE
Walking is an easy and efficient way to burn calories. It strengthens the muscles in your legs and torso, giving them a more toned and tight appearance. Plus, it improves endurance and balance. If you’re looking for a healthy way to lose weight or reach your ideal body shape, walking is the way to go. For best results, try interval walking and alternate between walking at top speed and walking briskly.
2. CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH BENEFITS
Make walking part of your daily routine to enjoy several health benefits to your heart. Walking picks up your heart rate while lowering blood pressure. It also improves circulation, strengthens the heart, and prevents the development of heart disease.
3. REDUCED BLOOD SUGAR
Taking a walk after mealtime keeps your blood sugar in check. As you walk, your muscles use up more glucose, leading to lower blood sugar levels over time. This benefits people with Type 1 diabetes, or anyone seeking to have their blood sugar levels returned to normal after a bout of mild illness or stress.
4. BOLSTERED IMMUNE FUNCTION
Adults who have a habit of walking for exercise daily are at less risk for developing the cold and flu than those who remain sedentary. Brisk walking increases the circulation of white blood cells and natural killer cells, key players in the body’s innate immune system.
5. BOOSTED ENERGY LEVELS
Exercising when you’re already tired may not seem like such an attractive idea, but you don’t have to aim big. Just a quick walk can increase oxygen flow as well as levels of energy-boosting hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in your body.
6. MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Walking releases endorphins to the body. These natural pain-killers lift away feelings of anxiety and depression, keeping you feeling positive. Studies have also found that walking consistently as exercise is correlated with lower rates of age-related memory decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
7. SUPPORTED JOINTS AND BONE MASS
Those with osteoporosis can use walking as a way to ward off the loss of bone mass. Walking also benefits people with arthritis, as it strengthens and protects the joints. The movement from walking delivers oxygen and nutrients to the joint cartilage, giving it extra support and reducing pain.