With so much focus on getting healthy and combatting chronic diseases, we all know the importance of engaging in regular physical activity. Walking is one of the easiest, lowest-impact, and most accessible forms of exercise you can do that can have big payoffs.
Here are a couple of ways that incorporating regular walks can change your body for the better:
1. Improved cognition
Moving more and incorporating physical activity like walking is a great way to improve your brain health and maximize your cognitive abilities, and this is especially true as you age.
Studies have shown that moderate physical activity can help to improve memory and prevent cognitive decline.
Walking is a great and easily-accessible way to incorporate moderate physical activity into your daily routine.
Feeling down? Go for a walk!
Not only can walking improve your cognitive health, but it can also help your psychological wellbeing and overall outlook on life.
Regular physical activity, including taking frequent walks, has been proven to boost your mood, so much so that it can actually play a part in your mental health.
In fact, studies have found that increasing and tracking your physical activity can actually help to reduce your risk of developing depression.
3. Managing anxiety
In addition to combatting depression and boosting your happiness, walking can also be a powerful tool in fighting chronic anxiety.
Getting regular walks in can decrease muscle tension and boost serotonin and other neurochemicals, all of which can help you deal with symptoms of chronic anxiety.
4. Weight management
Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than your body needs, and regular moderate-intensity walks can help you to burn more while still being relatively low-impact on your joints.
5. Improved cardiovascular health
Walking is an aerobic activity, meaning your heart needs to work a little harder to circulate enough oxygen throughout your body. This is a great exercise for your heart, and it’s especially true during longer or brisker walking bouts.
Keeping up with a moderate walking routine will keep your heart working hard and can reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions like high blood pressure and coronary heart disease down the line.
6. Stronger muscles
Getting regular walks goes a long way in helping to strengthen your leg and other lower-body muscles. Walking activates your leg muscles (your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves) as well as your glutes.
If you want to work those muscles even more, try increasing the intensity of your walks – for example, you can start walking up and down hilly landscapes to add difficulty or increase resistance.
7. Improved balance
Being active on your feet and strengthening your leg muscles can also give your balance a boost.
The simple act of keeping yourself upright during your walks can not only build strength in your leg muscles, but your core muscles as well, which are especially important in keeping you balanced.
The more you walk, the more you work these muscles, leading to better balance in the long run.
8. Stronger joints and bones
Physical activity is very important for maintaining bone density and joint health, but many people need to do lower-impact movements due to existing pain.
If you are wary of exercising because your joints are achy, going out for walks with good supportive walking shoes can do wonders for improving the strength of your ankles, feet, and joints.
Walking can improve not only your physical health, but your brain and emotional wellbeing as well. So if you’re looking for a way to incorporate more physical activity into your day, get those steps in!
- Mandolesi et al. “Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits”, NCBI 2018 Apr 27, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934999/
- “More evidence that exercise can boost mood.” Harvard Health Publishing, May 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/more-evidence-that-exercise-can-boost-mood
- Ratey, John J. “Can exercise help treat anxiety?” Harvard Health Publishing, 2019 October 24, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-help-treat-anxiety-2019102418096