How much do you think you walk a day? Just curious. In the age of CrossFit, hot yoga, Pilates studios and Soul Cycle classes, walking can seem like a tame alternative. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Walking is convenient, free, doesn’t require any special equipment or gym, and it can be done anywhere—even right outside your front door! Here are six reasons to make walking a lifetime commitment towards your Active Wellness.1
Keep your heart pumping
If you’re looking for a way to prolong the health of your ticker, walking only 30 minutes/5 times a week can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 19 percent! Contrary to the public health recommendation you need 10,000 steps daily to see results, 7,500 steps is also an ideal daily goal with comparable benefits.2
Walk faster, live longer
According to a 2016 study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, walking briskly (approximately 3 miles per hour) can increase your lifespan between 15 to 20 years. As with any exercise, the individual physical benefits gained from walking depends on three things: duration, intensity and frequency. Put simply: walk often, walk fast and walk long. The goal is to walk fast enough to raise your heart rate — even if just for a short burst. In fact, a study was done that alternating fast walking (even running) with slow walking is far better for your health and continuous running. I’d say, adjust your style to what you enjoy the most.
Leave stress behind
There’s something about getting out for a walk that just melts the stress and tension away. Whatever has you frazzled, overthinking, tired, frustrated or furious, seems to dissipate with a brisk walk. Studies have even proven daily 20-minute walks (especially outside) have been linked to significantly lower levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Being outside helps us to reconnect with nature even if you are in the city, preferably going to the park.
Lose weight, feel great
According to Harvard Health Medical School, walking can burn anywhere from 120–178 calories in 30 minutes. It’s also been proven to help you lose weight in an important area: the belly. This is a significant finding because women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches (and men of more than 40 inches) are considered to have abdominal obesity, which is considered a health risk.3
A brighter mental outlook
Multiple studies have shown that regular physical activity can help increase the release of the ‘feel-good’ hormones such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. A single walking session can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s also important to make a human connection when you’re feeling isolated, and chances are you will come across other people on your walk. Waving or exchanging a simple smile with others can uplift your mental state instantly.
Stronger bones and joints
It’s a fact of life as we get older our bone density decreases and our joint tissue breaks down. Repetitive, high impact movements such as running and aerobics can place stress on bones and joints. Walking is a fantastic exercise for the young and old, because it doesn’t involve jumping or landing on hard surfaces. A regular walking routine can also increase bone density and size.
Walking requires comfortable, supportive footwear. If you can’t find the right amount of support, consider investing in a good pair of walking shoes. Make sure you get wide shoes so your toes are not squashed (risk of bunions) and even a pair of insoles.
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My challenge to you
If walking is totally foreign to you, why not go out even for a 5 minute walk going round the house or the garden where you live. It’s a good start. Gradually you can increase. I listened to an interview where a man started cycling this way. He just cycled around his house for a month. Then he increased the distance but all very gradually. So you don’t get put off with your first attempt. For me it’s a fab self care moment to go around the village all by my self while leaving the children to my hubby. Please share your successes with me replying to this blog. Thank you.
Lucie Patel Varekova
Ambassador for the Human Being More Movement