Walking isn’t typically categorized as exercise since virtually everyone walks every day without struggling. This simple and oftentimes, absent-minded activity actually has many benefits that improve your overall health and wellness.
The Benefits of Walking
Surprisingly, research has shown that women who walked more than 7500 steps per day tended to have significantly less abdominal fat than those who walked less than that . In addition, walking effectively reduces blood clotting by increasing blood flow through the legs.
But wait! There’s more! Walking has an array of benefits, including:
1. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Walking may significantly decrease your risk of heart disease, a heart attack, or stroke. A 2018 study uncovered that walking for exercise reduces blood pressure, particularly in high blood pressure .
Many studies have also examined the relationship between the number of steps a person walks and their stroke risk. In one study, researchers found that the time a person spent walking significantly decreased their stroke risk, independent of what pace they were going .
This means that you don’t have to be going particularly fast in order to reap the benefits of walking. What can also be taken away from this study is that you may not necessarily need to go for a run or perform intensive activities to improve your heart health.
2. Decreased Cravings
Do you often reach for chocolate or sweet treats during times of stress? Next time, try nipping those cravings by going for a walk instead.
Research indicates that acute exercise, like walking, can reduce and diminish chocolate cravings in normal and overweight individuals . Some experts believe that this small strategy may help reduce obesity and other adverse health effects.
3. Improved Bone Mass
Partaking in regular walks may help improve bone mass and density in those with osteoporosis. While it isn’t as effective as strength training, walking still has some effect. One study even concluded that walking is beneficial when it comes to preventing hip fractures .
4. Increased Life Expectancy
Most physical activity can increase life expectancy by reducing health hazards, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer; walking is no exception to this . Research has stated that those who walk regularly have decreased medical demands, indicating better health and the possibility of a longer life .
5. Improved Mood
If you’re having a bad day, a walk might be just what you need to clear your head. Like other forms of exercise, walking releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-relievers and mood lifters. These chemicals are why you often feel good after exercise, including walking.
6. Reduced Joint Pain
The cartilage at your joints doesn’t have a direct blood supply, instead, it receives nutrients from the fluids at your joints. This means that movement, like walking, helps improve joint cartilage health by bringing more fluids into these areas.
In fact, studies have shown walking programs to reduce pain in arthritic individuals . Walking also builds muscles in the legs, which supports the joints, effectively reducing pain and discomfort.
7. Improved Cognitive Function
Walking may reduce cognitive decline, including memory in adults with mild cognitive impairments and healthy adults . It’s also been found to potentially reduce one’s risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease .
How Much Walking Is Good Exercise?
The debate on how much walking you should do varies, but 10,000 steps seems to be the best metric to aim for. However, studies tend to show the duration of a walk matters more than the number of steps.
Researchers suggest that walking for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week may be more beneficial to your health than short walking bouts . It’s also worth noting that some walking versus no physical activity at all is always the better option.
If you live a sedentary lifestyle but want to add a little movement, walking is always a great starting point. Ease into it by starting with a 5-10 minute walk.
Gradually build up your time to 30 minutes a day. You can also make the activity more enjoyable by walking with a friend or listening to an audiobook, podcast, or music. Mixing up your walking route is also a great way to keep things interesting.
Running vs. Walking
Saying that running is simply a faster pace compared to walking is a gross oversimplification. Walking is almost a completely different movement with one foot remaining in contact with the ground at all times.
A running stride consists of both feet off the ground at a certain point. This is what makes running ‘high-impact’ and why it’s not always the best for everyone.
Running can be tough on the joints, especially in older and/or heavier individuals. This is why walking can be a great alternative for those looking to add some activity into their lives.
Who Is Walking Best For?
The simple answer: walking is great for anyone and everyone. Specifically speaking, walking is often best for those with joint pain conditions, chronic pain conditions, and seniors.
It’s a gentle exercise that is easy on the joints and is unlikely to cause further pain. In contrast, high-impact activities, like running or jumping, can aggravate these conditions, as well as create issues for older individuals. Walking is also a great alternative for those recovering from an injury.
So, grab your most comfortable pair of shoes and embrace a new daily walking routine! Remember, just a little bit of movement each day is better than none at all. And to compliment the end of every walk, consider basking inside of a JNH Lifestyles infrared sauna.
Infrared saunas have an immense amount of health benefits. Check out all full collections here and see why our customers love us!
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