This post was contributed by Jacky Miller, a Registered Dietician based in New Zealand. She is deeply passionate about holistic health, yoga, meditation, nutrition and exercise. She writes regularly on health related topics for blogs including MindBodyGreen, Jen Reviews, and The Huffington Post.
Here are 25 additional health benefits of walking, according to Jacky Miller.
26. Improve Your Memory
Regular daily walking is a form of exercise that can increase the size of your brain. It increases the hippocampus, which is the area used for memory.
You don’t need to do pounding exercises either, a brisk daily 30 to 40-minute walk is all you need.
As we age, our memory sometimes begins to slow down. Plus, in today’s Information age, we have more things to remember. To get rid of your brain fog and be able to rely on your recall ability, get out and walk each day.
A fast-paced walk can wake your brain, from its deep slumber. You will be able to recall events more quickly and remember things a lot easier.
27. Exercise Increases the Functioning of the Lungs
The exercise you get from brisk walking increases the workload on the lungs. The sympathetic nerves stimulate your respiratory muscles so that you increase the rate of your breathing.
Byproducts from your muscles (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and lactic acid) stimulate the respiratory nerves in the brainstem. This again stimulates the respiratory muscles. A slightly elevated blood pressure, opens blood flow to more air sacs in the lungs.
This whole process, produces more oxygen in the blood. When your lungs get more oxygen, your whole body gets more.
28. Increases Dexterity
Walking can help you improve your balance and physical dexterity. You will increase your control and purposeful physical movements. It is especially important to maintain physical dexterity as you age.
Losing this can lead to more falls and frailty. While you are walking, at a brisk pace, carry five pound weights in each hand. This will help with manual dexterity.
It will make your fingers, wrists and hands more flexible. Losing the ability to move quickly and effectively is what causes older people not to be able to take care of themselves. By exercising your muscles, daily by walking with weights, you can slow the process.
29. Improve Fluid Intelligence
Fluid intelligence is an innate learning capacity. It does not depend on education, experiences or previous learning. It refers to a person’s ability to reason and process and analyze information.
Fluid intelligence is handled by the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This intelligence peaks in the late 20s and begins a steady decline.
The decline is related to age related decline on the right cerebellum. This condition is often seen in people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Exercise increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and activates the genes that help with cognition The hormone caused by degeneration of neurons is cortisol, which shrinks the hippocampus. It is thought that increasing aerobic exercise will combat this problem.
Brisk daily walking is a good form of aerobic exercise. It will help increase the fluid intelligence you have.
30. Make You Look Younger
By tightening up sagging skin and firming muscle tone, daily walking cannot help but make you look younger. If your skin is firmer and you lose your cottage cheese legs and buttocks, you will definitely look and feel a lot better.
Daily walking will also stimulate the blood flow to your skin, giving your face more color and vibrancy and the rest of your body as well. Being out in the fresh air on a regular basis, will make you look and feel younger.
31. Help you Get Rid of Flabby Legs
Have you ever seen the flab on people’s legs who do very little exercise?
Their legs seem to sway with every step they take. That is because they have no muscle tone. Their legs are made mainly of fat material. Fat is like blubber. It has no form. It just moves around with no structure.
Daily walking over a period of time will get rid of the excess fat and flab. Your legs will firm up and look great. Rather than having flabby legs, in a bit of time, you will have toned muscular legs that you will be proud of.
32.Get More Sun Exposure for Vitamin D
Do you ever find yourself in the doldrums on rainy days, especially if you have experienced more than one or two days of this weather?
That’s because your body needs Vitamin D which comes from the sun.
Daily walking will help give you more exposure to the natural form of Vitamin D – that comes from exposure to the sun.
Daily walking will help increase your body’s access to Vitamin D, giving you that extra boost that will help you feel good.
A 30-minute brisk walk each day, will give you a lift in your step, because Vitamin D from the sun works on mood. No need for prolonged exposure to sun, just a few minutes each day. Many people forget that one of the best sources of Vitamin D is exposure to daily sunshine.
33. Improve Blood Lipid Levels
Low-Density Lipoprotein is thought to increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses in the body.
Exercise stimulates enzymes that help get LDL out of the blood and into the liver. There it can be used for digestion and the excess excreted from the body. Exercise increases the size of the protein particles carrying cholesterol through the body.
The smaller particles can squeeze through to the heart and other body parts, weakening them. So, exercise helps reduce this by increasing the size of protein particles. The exercise required is not just moderate walking, but more vigorous walking, the kind that is considered aerobic exercise. This means fast walking for 30 to 40 minutes a day.
34.Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Research shows that physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of Cancer. Reports show that active people have a 24 percent lower chance of getting colon cancer.
Active women are less likely to get breast cancer. There are reports showing that other cancers are reduced with moderate physical activity as well. Esophageal cancer, liver cancer and others are reported to be reduced by exercise. Exercise lowers that level of some hormones like estrogen, insulin and certain growth factors that increase cancer risk.
It helps food digest faster, lowering stomach and GI tract cancers. It has been said that where there is oxygen, cancer cannot grow. Walking will greatly increase the amount of oxygen flowing through your body.
35. Daily Walking Improves Asthmatic and Respiratory Conditions
People with asthma and respiratory conditions many times believe that exercise is bad for them and will bring on asthma and breathing attacks. That is not necessarily the case.
Exercise is good for people with asthma. However, the level of exercise must be appropriate. Obviously, you do not want to over exert yourself, but daily walking is typically good for asthma patients.
It can be started slowly and built up as you feel comfortable. It will help open your airways and make breathing a bit smoother. It will strengthen your lungs and help improve on your breathing and reduce your asthma symptoms. Asthma patients’ lungs are more sensitive to cold air or hot air and pollen and other things from the atmosphere.
Breathing through the nose rather than the mouth when exercising is recommended for asthma patients. Air is warmed and filtered before reaching the lungs, making it easier for breathing.
Walking is the best exercise to do, in order to avoid mouth breathing. Walk at a pace that allows you to continue breathing through your nose. When you start to breathe through your mouth, slow down or take a rest.
36 Sleep Disorders Reduced by Daily Walking
People who engage in daily exercise have fewer problems with sleeplessness.
Moderate exercise, like daily walking improves the quality of sleep by allowing a smoother transition between the different phases of sleep.
Heavier exercising in the morning and afternoon are better for sleep. More mild exercise at bedtime is best. It will allow you to get to the deepest stage of sleep and stay asleep longer.
Low-impact exercises have proven to reduce PMS symptoms and make that time of the month a little easier to handle.
When the cramps start, take a brisk walk and you will likely reduce some of those nasty symptoms. By increasing the endorphins being released in your brain, you will likely be in a much better mood as well.
All the benefits of exercise still work for period time, just slow it down a little bit. Avoid high impact exercises like running and substitute a brisk walk.
38 Reduces Chances of Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Daily walking can help reduce the chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It keeps that brain functioning better, increases the oxygen that is circulating through your body, including your brain.
Being sedentary for a long period of time can cause brain fog that can lead to reduced functioning of the brain.
The brain will actually shrink in sedentary people. Exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, which supports thinking.
Many find it hard to believe that the brain can recover from a sedentary lifestyle, however, it can and there are many cases to prove it. By rejuvenating your brain activity, you can reduce the chances that you will develop dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
39. Helps Reduce Obesity
Obesity is a problem that many Americans suffer from, due to lack of exercise and overeating. Many people sit all day long on their jobs, and then feel that they don’t have time to exercise after taking care of children and families in the evening.
A simple 30-40 minute brisk walk each day could help reduce or prevent obesity. This is a condition that can lead to all kinds of health problems and reduce your lifespan as well. Even if you don’t change your eating habits, a daily walk will help you burn more calories and stay healthier.
Many overweight or obese people say they don’t have the energy to exercise, but if you just start out slowly and build up the time you walk, your health will improve immensely.
40. Improves your Sex Life
Daily walking will basically improve your lifestyle. It improves muscles strength, mind-body coordination and other physical activities. It can also improve the sex drive in both men and women.
Exercise showed a significant increase in the sex drive of men. It has shown to have the effect of increasing the physiological and sexual arousal of women as well. It increases body awareness which also increased sexual arousal.
The increased self-esteem that comes with exercising also has a huge impact on sex drive for both men and women.
41. Help Prevent Miscarriage
When you become pregnant your joints can soften a bit, which may lead to injuries if you are too activity. Many women who were very athlete before their pregnancies, want to stay at the same level after they become pregnant. Many doctors recommend avoiding high impact exercise during pregnancy.
To stay active and healthy, daily walking is highly recommended, instead of running and other extreme exercises. A study showed that women who worked out with high impact exercises during pregnancy were 3-5 times more likely to have a miscarriage than women who did not work out at all.
So, low-impact walking will help keep your heart and other muscles strong, but not do damage to your pregnant body. Most doctors advise their pregnant patients to do regular low-impact exercise.
It keeps them in good shape for delivering their babies and it keeps them from gaining too much weight, while they are pregnant.
42. Daily Walking Increases Energy
Research from the University of Georgia found that when sedentary people started 20-30 minutes of low-impact exercise, several times a week, that they had more energy and less fatigue.
Walking will increase the blood flow to their muscles and their brain, increasing their energy levels and help them feel better. Exercise increases adenosine triphosphate a chemical produced by the body, that increases blood flow.
If you are feeling tired and run down, it could be to lack of exercise. Taking a brisk walk will wake up your brain and your body. You will lose the fatigue feeling and feel more vibrant.
43. Best Way to Exercise the Muscles in Your Feet
Most people never even think about exercising their feet, but there are ligaments, muscles and bones in the feet that need regular exercise as well. There are 50 muscles in the feet alone.
The feet muscles need exercise to stay healthy and maintain proper functioning. When they don’t get enough exercise, they become weak. Daily walking will exercise the 26 bones in the feet – without damaging them. It will keep them functioning more smoothly so you can stay mobile for the rest of your life.
To reduce aches and pains after your walk, a gentle massage of your feet is helpful. Stretch them out so it relieves any stress and pain.
44. Keeps Your Metabolism Working Fast
Daily walking will increase your metabolism and keep it working at a much faster rate. This will allow your body to burn calories faster and for a longer period of time.
Did you know that when you exercise on a regular basis, you even burn calories while you are sleeping? You don’t have to do extreme exercises for this to happen either. A fast-paced walk each day will increase your overall metabolism which means that it will even be working faster while you sleep.
A brisk 30-40 minute walk each day will help you digest food faster; lose weight and stay much healthier. If your digestion works faster, it can prevent stomach and other abdominal problems as well.
45. Helps Raise Your High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol
We discussed how walking can help lower the bad cholesterol in your body, staving off diseases that can be caused by it. However, walking can also increase the HDL cholesterol.
You probably remember hearing about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. The good cholesterol, HDL transports harmful low-density cholesterol to the liver where it is broken down and expelled from the body.
HDL is important for stabilizing your blood cholesterol level. Walking will boost this level is done over a period of time.
46. Can Help Reduce Acid Reflux
If you suffer from acid reflux, you know how important getting relief is. You run to take antacids at the first sign of an attack.
Well, walking can help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux and reduce the occurrence of the attacks. Some forms of exercise can increase the chances of acid reflux, especially those that require you to lay flat on your back or put a lot of strain on your chest.
A doctor’s study of 1,875 people with acid reflux found that those who took a walk after dinner and eat 3 hours before bedtime, were able to reduce their episodes of GERD.
47. Relieve Menopause Symptoms
Women who are going through menopause can benefit from a regular exercise to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
A study done on women from 55 to 72 showed that women who were involved in regular exercise experienced far fewer menopause symptoms than those who did not exercise.
48. Walking Can Reduce Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes a throbbing, creeping or tingling sensation in the legs. It typically happens at night, when trying to sleep. They must move their legs or even stand to relieve the sensation.
Both men and women can have the condition, however, women are twice as likely to have it.
Walking is a great exercise for restless leg syndrome. Speed walking or walking at a brisk pace is best. Remember to stretch and bend before you start your walk, so you are limbered up. Do stretching at the end of your walk also.
49. Walking Improves Circulation
Walking is a great way to increase your circulation. Just like with any other bodily function, if you are active, things will work better. That includes the blood flow and circulation to all your body parts.
Walking can help improve circulation and it is helpful for peripheral artery disease. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque in the arteries. This is a narrowing of the blood vessels. Walking can help prevent this condition and with regular walks can help reverse it.
50. Improves Your Social Life
Many people claim to have met new friends and neighbors by regularly taking a daily walk. Meeting new people and making new friends has a definite benefit to your overall health and enjoyment of life. It improves your mental attitude and helps reduce isolation.
So, you now have 50 good reasons to start a daily walking program. Surely some of these things will be of benefit to you. Happy walking!