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. Through gentle and non-invasive treatments, she addresses the cause of illness and encourages the body to heal itself naturally. She also has extensive teaching experience having taught yoga, breath work and meditation for many years in New Zealand and in the United States. She writes regularly on health related topics for blogs including MindBodyGreen, Jen Reviews, and The Huffington Post.
Daily walking has more health benefits than sporadic heavy exercising. It not only helps you feel good, it will help you look good as well. Exercise does not have to be harsh and difficult. A simple brisk walk each day can greatly improve your health.
Here are 25 amazing health benefits of walking, according to science.
1. Walking Can Trim Your Waistline
If you are beginning to notice a midriff bulge, a regular daily brisk walk can help get rid of it. With a steady regular brisk walking schedule you will have flat abs in no time.
The important thing to remember is your technique for walking should be correct. Hold your head up, looking straight ahead, not at the ground. Keep your neck, shoulders and back relaxed. Walking with stiffness will be very tiring and leave you sore afterwards.
Swing your arms naturally, with a slightly bent elbow. Tighten your stomach muscles just a bit. Breathe deeply as you walk, and enjoy yourself.
2. Daily Walking Can Improve Your Heart Health
Walking daily has been proven to decrease the chances of a person developing heart disease.
A study of 229 postmenopausal women had one group walk one mile a day and the other group to do what they normally do every day. After 10 years, the study showed that the group that walked on a regular basis, had 82 percent lower risk of heart disease.
Some people use Fitbits to count their steps each day. If you do this, and you take 10,000 steps per day, you will have a positive effect on your heart as well. When possible, take the stairs rather than an elevator. Walking is a good activity for a healthy heart.
3. Reduce Arthritis Pain
If you walk for 30 to 60 minutes every day, you will get the best arthritis pain relief naturally. Walking helps reduce inflammation and stiffness in your joints.
When you start, go at a slower pace and gradually build up to walking faster and longer. You will feel great.
4. Improve Mental Attitude
Daily walking has shown to be very helpful for lifting a person’s mental attitude. It can give you a few minutes to clear the cobwebs in your head, through breathing in fresh air and connecting with the environment.
5. Reduce Excess Weight
One of the most obvious benefits of daily walking is that you will be able to gradually reduce excess weight that you have been carrying around. If you walk at a good clip, and for at least 30 to 45 minutes each day, you will begin to notice that your clothes are a bit looser. Keep it up and you may need a new wardrobe.
6. Manage High Blood Pressure
It has been reported that walking daily can lower blood pressure naturally. Many people claim they don’t have time to do a 30 or 45 minute walk each day.
Good news! New studies show that several 10 minute brisk walks can be as helpful as one longer walk. Walk in the morning for 10 minutes. Take a 10-minute stroll at lunchtime and then again after work.
7. Help Manage Type-2 Diabetes
It is claimed that exercise is almost as important as diet in controlling type-2 diabetes.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise you can do. It is easy, free and low impact. You will get more than one benefit from walking to control your diabetes. It is very healthy and refreshing.
8. Improve Your Balance and Coordination
Staying active helps with balance and coordination. You need to use your muscles to keep them working well. Walking is a great way to keep your muscles working, especially those in your legs and arms.
9. Strengthen Your Bones
Osteoblasts are the cells in your bones that build new bone. They respond well to added stress. That means if you have not been walking and you start, your bones will get stronger because you are adding stress.
Walking is the best way to do this. If you are already walking, you need to add something to your walk. Maybe a few more minutes would do the trick.
10. Reduce Size of Your Buttocks
Obviously doing any exercise that uses the muscles in your behind will cause them to tighten up a bit and get your derriere in better shape. Eventually you may need some new walking pants.
11. Reduce Body Fat
Walking will help reduce the overall amount of body fat you are carrying around.
Many people don’t think much about body fat and are more concerned with their weight. Body fat is something to think about as well. Walking daily will definitely reduce the amount of body fat you have and increase your muscles.
12. Increase Your Lifespan
Studies show that walking daily will extend your life as well as make you feel better. There are so many benefits to walking that it can’t help but extend your life and improve it as well. You will be able to move more freely for a lot longer.
13. Reduce Stress
Mental stress is a problem for most busy people these days.
There are so many things to think about and deal with, that sometimes you feel like you are running from one thing to another all-day long. Research shows that a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk every day can reduce mental stress. It is said to have the same effect as a mild tranquilizer.
14. Good for Your Brain
Exercise helps the brain protect memory and the ability to think clearly. A study done at the University of British Columbia, found that regular aerobic exercise boosts the sizeof the hippocampus.
This is the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. Brisk walking for 45 minutes is considered aerobic exercise. It has the same benefits as working out with gym equipment. This is a great way to keep dementia at bay.
The parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in people who exercise versus those who don’t.
If you have not been exercising at all, starting a regular walking program can help increase your brain size, so it’s never too late to start.
15. It is a Low Impact form of Exercise
If you have not been active for a while, walking is a great way to get started. It is a low-impact form of exercise. You will not be pounding your body on concrete or jerking and jarring your body in any way. Start out slowly and build up the pace at which you are walking. It is as good as an aerobics class.
16. It Boosts the Immune System
Daily walking can help boost your immune system. Recent studies show that if you exercise regularly you can reduce the number of colds you have each year. Doctors report that regular exercise can support your immune system by strengthening the cells that attack bad bacteria in your body. To get this benefit, the walking needs to be done every day.
17. It Helps Prevent Falling in Older People
Daily walking strengthens a person’s ability to move smoothly. For older people this can prevent falling, which can lead to further health problems. As people age, the ability to move smoothly and easily decreases, so movement and activity is essential, to maintain stability and flow.
Many older people become very sedentary and this can cause the body to atrophy. Then when they do try to walk and move, they are more prone to falls, which can break bones and lead to even worse problems.
18. It Gives You Time to Think
Walking gets you outside and gives you time to think. You can mute your cell phone, and get away from TVs, computers and other distractions. You have time to think through the activities of the day, issues you needed solutions for, and more.
Many people take a walk just to get away from everything so they can think and chill out. When you are walking, your mind can get quiet, so answers to problems have a chance to come into view.
19. It Allows You Time to Meditate
If you like to mediate, walking is a good time to do it. You can put meditation tracks in your iPod and meditate while you walk. By doing this, you can knock two things out at the same time.
20. It is in Your Body’s Makeup to Walk
Human beings are built to walk. It is almost a necessity. Without it, the body almost shuts down. Movement and mobility is built in the human body. We have joints to allow us to move freely. We have muscles to support us. Not using these parts of the body will cause them to stop working all together.
21. Your Creative Juices Start to Flow
When you walk daily, your creativity increases. It not only gets your body moving, it wakes your brain up. The old saying that you should “sleep on it” before making a major decision, may not be the best advice.
Taking a walk may produce better results. Walking opens the flow of ideas, therefore increasing creative thinking.Walking and other types of mild exercise stimulate neural connectivity and plasticity in the hippocampus in the brain.
Philosophers and other writers have found that there is an intuitive connection between walking, thinking and writing. Because walking does not take much thought, our attention is free to wander and think. This is the mental state that is linked to innovative ideas and insight.
22. It Will Improve Your Outlook on Life
When you are active for at least 30 or 40 minutes a day, your body will release chemicals, endorphins that help improve your mood. They send signals to your brain that you feel good, along with other neurotransmitters.
If you feel good, your outlook on life will improve. Daily walking will reduce the levels of cortisol in your body. This is a hormone linked to causing stress and bad moods. Reasonable exercise will improve the way you feel. This can help you feel more positive about life and about yourself.
23. Your Legs Will Look Good and Be Stronger
Walking on a daily basis will help tone your legs and make them look great and be stronger. Regular walking with help you get rid of your cottage cheese legs and tighten up your skin, making your legs look and feel better.
As we get older, our body loses muscle tone. Walking is a good way to increase the muscle tone of your legs. Swinging your arms back and forth as you walk can also increase the tone of your arms
24. You Will Have More Regular Bathroom Habits
When you get on a regular daily walking schedule, you will soon find that other areas of your life become more regular as well. Mainly, going to the bathroom.
Having regular bowel movements is another benefit of walking. It speeds up digestion and therefore, causes a more regular removal of waste materials from the body.
Those people who have a sedentary lifestyle, usually have very slow digestive system. When your bowels slow down, waste material becomes hard and it is more difficult to pass, causing constipation. Start walking and get rid of the medicines for constipation. All the blood flowing to your muscles, through moderate exercise will carry the waste material away.
25. Walking Uphill Will Firm Your Glutes
Many people are concerned about more than just the size of their butts and outer thighs. They want them to be firm.
Having a soft, saggy butt and thighs is not what most people find attractive. Firm glute muscles make the whole package look great. Once you get your regular daily walking routine set, add some uphill walking. It will tighten your glutes and your legs. Say goodbye to the soft flab forever.