We all know just how important regular physical activity is for our overall health, but not all exercises are created equal! Some people need high impact, high intensity exercise, while others need to be a little more gentle on their bodies. However, there is one exercise that everyone should be doing every day, regardless of age or fitness level. It has far too many physical and mental benefits not to be included in your daily routine.
So, what is this exercise?...it’s walking of course! It may seem simple, but walking is one of the best ways to get your body into shape; it promotes blood flow and weight management, and it’s low impact. Even bodybuilders use walking to help tone their bodies.
Here are 31 amazing health benefits of walking!
#1 Boosts Mood: If you’re in a bad mood, get outside and walk! Sometimes, something as simple as moving our bodies is enough to turn a bad day around. Get outside, get some fresh air, and experience that natural endorphin release you get from physical activity.
#2 Low Impact and Decreases Joint Pain: Walking doesn't beat up your knees, back, and ankles, and doesn’t involve a ton of strain on your joints. It may even help to alleviate joint pain you may be experiencing.
#3 Supports Longevity: Walking can actually add years to your life! A study found that those who kept walking throughout their fifties and sixties were 35% less likely to die in the next eight years when compared to those who did not walk.
#4 Helps Combat Stress: Feeling stressed? Get outside and move your body! You will feel so much better after a brisk walk. Brisk walking can help reduce pent-up frustration and thus reduce feelings of stress.
#5 Reduces Your Risk of Stroke: It’s one of the best things you can do for blood flow and brain health! Get out and walk as much as you can to help reduce your risk of stroke.
#6 Reduces Your Risk of Mental Decline: It’s been reported that walking just 3/4 of a mile per day can cut your risk of age-related mental decline.
#8 Slashes Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Weight gain is a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes, and walking can help you maintain a healthy weight. Walking may also help you make healthier dietary choices which in turn reduces your risk of diabetes.
#9 Can Help Reduce Arthritis Pain: Moving your body in a way that doesn’t put strain on your muscles and joints may help ease the pain associated with arthritis, and walking is a great low-impact way to do that.
#11 Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight: Walking is a great form of exercise that can help you burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. High duration, low intensity cardio is a proven way to drop excess pounds.
#12 Can Help Boost Memory: Exercise has been found to change the brain -- improving memory and supporting overall brain health.
#13 Can Help Combat Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression: Walking reduces your overall stress levels by releasing feel-good endorphins, which can help combat feelings of anxiety.
#14 Supports Respiratory Health: When you walk, you improve your circulation, which supports your respiratory health. Be mindful of your breathing as you walk—take long, deep breaths to nourish the lungs with oxygen and promote optimal respiratory health.
#15 Can Keep Blood Pressure Levels in Check: Exercise is a great way to support heart health and lower blood pressure.
#16 Keep Your Immune System Strong: Intense, high-impact exercise can sometimes weaken the immune system, but low-impact exercise like walking can help strengthen it. Plus, if you walk outdoors, you get to soak up some Vitamin D which is another great immune-booster.
#18 Can Help You Stay Social if You “Walk & Talk”: Invite a friend on a walk as a way to support your overall health and socialize at the same time. Instead of meeting up for lunch or coffee, meet up for a stroll. You’ll both enjoy the exchange that much more!
(UPDATE: This article was first published in March of 2019. If you invite a friend to walk with you this week, make sure you maintain a safe distance from one another!)
#20 Can Keep Your Muscles & Bones Strong: While not a high-intensity form of exercise, the addition of walking also aids in keeping your muscles and bones strong. In fact, walking can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
#21 Can Help You Sleep Better: Exercise is a great way to help promote better sleep, so if sleep is an issue for you, try adding walking to your daily routine.
#22 Supports Balance & Coordination: You can help support balance and coordination as you walk, so walk as often as you can in supportive shoes.
#23 Helps You Build Exercise Endurance: If you are training for an athletic event, or just want to boost your endurance, add walking to your exercise routine.
#25 Can Save You Hundreds of Dollars Each Year: Walking can save you so much money as an alternative to gym memberships! Walking outside is free, so try getting outside for a walk and following that up with a short home workout.
#26 Can Lead to Healthier Choices: If you choose to walk regularly as part of your effort to live a healthy lifestyle, your daily walk can encourage you to make healthier choices throughout the rest of your day as well.
#27 Can Reduce Muscle Tension: If you are tense and stressed out, your muscles can become tight. Walking can help relax those muscles throughout your whole body, and help you feel better.
#28 Can Help Support Detox by Supporting Proper Elimination: Walking will get the digestive juices going and will most likely help support optimal elimination, which in turn can help promote detoxification and a healthier GI tract.
#29 Reduces Fatigue & Boosts Energy Levels: If you’re feeling sluggish and in a funk, get outside for a walk. Chances are, you will come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.
#30 Can Help Reduce PMS Symptoms: If you suffer from PMS cramps, chances are the last thing you want to do is get out for a walk, but it may help to reduce the severity of your cramps! Just breathe into any sensations and walk at a leisurely pace.
#31 Supports Overall Quality of Life: Walking can support your overall quality of life. With all of the benefits of walking, it’s hard not to recognize the universal qualities of this low-impact exercise that you can do anywhere and almost anytime (just bring a flashlight and reflective clothing if you are a night owl).
So get out and walk! Go to Europe (or just your local park or city art museum) and take a walking tour. Go to the mountains or the beach. . . just keep that body moving. If it’s too cold, get on a treadmill and walk or do some laps around your local mall or favorite shopping place! Find a way to walk; there are just far too many benefits to not include it in your daily life. Your joints, mind, and rest of your body will thank you.