Walk Your Way To Better Health
How much do you walk every day? If we had to guess, you probably aren’t sure because you don’t think much about it. Walking is one of those things we do without much thought because it’s a basic part of our day-to-day lives. We walk around the house, to and from our vehicles, in the yard, and around our neighborhood. The list of places we walk to–or from–is endless. While it may be something small that we don’t give much thought to, the truth is that the simple act of walking is one of the easiest ways to improve your health.
It’s true! Walking has some physical and mental health perks that everyone can benefit from, even if you don’t feel up to hiking up a mountain or taking a brisk walk in the cold weather. There are many ways you can reach your walking quota in a fun and effective way. But, more on that in a little bit!
Physical Benefits of Walking
Before we dive into the different ways you can reach your walking goal, let’s take a closer look at a few of the many ways walking can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being.
1. It Promotes Stronger Muscles and Improved Endurance 💪
When you walk, you engage many body muscles like your abdominal and leg muscles. If you are including arm movements during your walks, it also activates many of the muscles in your arms. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to engage in brisk walking for long periods of time for your muscles to benefit, you just have to pay a little more attention to how you are walking. As you walk, contract your abdominal muscles and remember to breathe deeply. Additionally, you can focus on increasing your range of motion by taking bigger steps or swinging your arms more. Over time, your body will begin to adjust and grow stronger, which will in turn help improve your endurance so you can walk longer or further when you choose to.
2. It Boosts Your Cardiovascular Health 💓
Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, and it can always benefit from a helping hand when it comes to staying healthy. A consistent walking routine that you engage in daily can benefit your heart by helping regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also strengthening the muscles your heart uses to pump blood throughout your circulatory system.
3. It’s Great For Weight Management ⚖️
Yes, walking is a great exercise to start with when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Walking is particularly beneficial because it is an exercise activity that engages nearly every part of your body. In fact, research has shown that engaging in moderate walking can help you lose more weight than if you didn’t make walking part of your regular routine. This means that it’s scientifically proven that walking is often an important activity for those looking to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
4. It’s Great for Balance and Coordination 💁
If you feel like you can be pretty clumsy or struggle with balance and coordination, then incorporating more walking into your day may help. The simple act of walking can help strengthen your lower body, which means it can help your hips, legs, feet, and lower joints become more stable. Even starting with just a few extra minutes of walking each day can make a difference and increasing that over time can lead to great improvement in the long run.
Walking For Mental Health
In addition to those physical benefits, walking more throughout the day can also help improve your mental health in a few ways, including…
1. Helping With Stress Management 😖
What happens to most of us when we’re in a stressful situation? That’s right, we start walking. Maybe you have the tendency to pace or perhaps you prefer to take a walk outside, but either way, it’s almost instinctual to start walking when we feel stressed out. Research shows that busy, stressful environments like urban centers don’t help a whole lot with stress reduction. This means that walking around your neighborhood or town square may help a little, but if you really want to relieve some of that tension you should seek out a natural area to walk through. In fact, the same study shows that a 60-minute walk in nature is great for reducing stressful brain activity.
2. Boosting Your Mood and Self-Esteem 😜
A daily stroll outside is a great way to boost your self-esteem and overall mood. This is because walking helps to release pain-killing endorphins. When you are in a situation that spoils your mood, a walk will help to boost it almost immediately. At the same time, you will feel your self-esteem increasing when you walk regularly and start to see positive changes in both your physical and mental health. One study showed that more walks in a week, regardless of the duration (although 30 minutes a day is ideal) can help to boost your mental health and mood.
3. Improving Creativity and Memory 🧠
One Stanford study showed that a walk in nature gets your creative juices flowing. This research also shows that someone challenged in a creative or memory activity performed better when active on a treadmill or walking outside, as compared to someone who is seated at a desk. It is easy to see that your memory and creativity can be boosted by simply taking a walk!
Tips To Get Your Walk On!
Ready to start walking more? Here are some tips to help you get more steps in throughout your day.
1. Get a pedometer: This can be a smartwatch or sports pedometer that can count how many steps you take, how many minutes you have walked, and possibly even the number of calories you are burning. It helps you track your progress and can keep you accountable. ⌚
2. Get a Walking Buddy: It’s not uncommon to think that taking a long walk by yourself is a little boring, which can make the task feel daunting. Walking with a friend, neighbor or spouse gives you some motivation to go further and is a nice way to catch up with each other. 👭
3. Take the Stairs: One way to add more steps to your day is to take the stairs instead of an elevator. You will boost your heart rate, strengthen your muscles, and burn a few calories all at the same time. 👍
4. Park Further Away: Ideally, we would advise walking to your neighborhood grocery store or restaurant instead of driving. If this is not possible, you can park further away from your destination, such as at the far end of the parking lot, and sweat a little while relieving stress and burning calories on your way to getting your shopping done. 🚗
Types of Walking Exercises
Feeling really motivated to walk more? Great! Harness that motivation and start adding some dedicated walking exercises to your regular workout routine. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Slow or Moderate Walking: These are just normal steps that you would take in your daily activities or around your neighborhood when you feel like going for a stroll after dinner. 👟
2. Brisk or Power Walking: This means taking faster steps while engaging your arms and lower body muscles. This can be done anytime you are walking from place to place or added to your day as a dedicated time where you power walk on the treadmill or around the block. 🚶
3. Hiking: If you want to move your body and embrace the benefits of nature, then consider going on a hike up a nearby hill or mountain. This activity is longer and may require some prior planning and training, but it’s a great way to get outside and move your body. 🌄
4. Walking Meditation: In this case, you are walking while being mindful of each step, which makes it a great option for those looking to relax and relieve stress. Ideally, you’ll want to walk in a quiet place so you can allow your mind to calm, and you’ll also want to walk at a slower pace than normal so you can be aware of your surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. 🧘
Sending You Tons of Love and Humongous Hugs,
Tina “One Step At A Time” McDermott