Thomas Jefferson once said that “walking is the best possible exercise.” And it’s true! The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this simple activity you’ve been doing since you were about a year old has amazing benefits. That’s why I’d like to share with you 9 reasons why you need to walk more.
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity to be spread out during the course of a week. As a general goal, it’s good to aim for at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can’t set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all.
Of course, you probably know that any physical activity, including walking, is good for your overall health. But walking more, in particular, comes with a host of benefits. Here are a few…
Walking Burns Calories
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s so important to remember. Just know that your actual calorie burn will depend on several factors, including walking speed, distance covered, terrain, and your weight. There’s also a helpful walking calorie calculator available, too.
Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that regular walking was linked to a 7% reduced risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Lower Fasting Blood Sugar (Glucose)
Higher blood glucose levels are a risk factor for diabetes. The same study from the American Heart Association also found that walkers had a 12% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Eases Joint Pain
Walking can help protect the joints, including your hips and knees. That’s because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Harvard Health also found that walking may also reduce pain for people struggling with arthritis.
Walking Provides a Mental Boost
That’s right! One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60%. Researchers labeled this type of creativity “divergent thinking” as walking opens up a free flow of ideas.
Lower Alzheimer’s Risk
A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who walked less.
It Boosts Immune Function
Walking can help protect you during the cold and flu season. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a study found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
Increases Your Ability to Recall Information
I wish I knew about this before test time when I was in college. According to a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, researchers found that students who participated in brief bouts of physical activity had 25% better recall than those who did not.
It Makes You Happy
Think of walking as moving meditation. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity, such as walking, helps you relax and increases your body’s levels of feel-good endorphins and can lower stress and anxiety.
Who knew that walking contained so many health benefits? Is there a benefit to walking that you’d like to share with me? If so, I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a great post on how to stay motivated to walk more. And please be sure to subscribe below to receive more great health and wellness tips like these straight to your inbox each Friday.