Embarking on a fitness and weight loss program can be an intimidating new goal, especially for workout beginners and those who’ve been out of the exercise habit for a while. This is why walking is a wonderful way to gently ease anyone into a new, healthier lifestyle without a lot of stress or training. Because everybody knows how to walk, and even those with joint issues can build up muscles to eventually ease aches and pains if they take it very slowly.
Besides the health benefits that accompany the loss of excess weight, brisk walking and other types of cardiovascular exercise can prevent many other ailments and illnesses, making it important to do on a regular basis.
Most fitness experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio 4-5 days a week, but there’s nothing wrong with fitting some walking time into every day, as no healing period is required if muscles aren’t pushed too hard.
Check out 7 ways walking can make you healthier and more physically fit below:
1. Walking Prevents Type 2 Diabetes—
Especially if type 2 diabetes runs in your family, a walking program can be an invaluable and simple step on the path to avoiding this disease.
The Diabetes Prevention Program has even determined that walking 150 minutes per week, and losing only 12-15 pounds can reduce a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 58%. (Source: MedicineNet.com.)
GlobalFit.com also found that type 2 diabetics who walk at least 3-4 hours a week have a 54% lower death rate, proving that it’s never too late to change your future.
2. Walking Improves Mood—
When we walk, the body releases feel-good endorphins and brain chemicals that make us feel euphoric and happier inside. Multiple studies have shown that people who walk have lower stress levels than those who are sedentary. According to EverybodyWalk.org, the endorphins produced when walking can relieve stress and lower anger and fatigue levels within only 10 minutes.
Walking is also a great way to work off nervous energy and anxiety without straining the body, and has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression by as much as 47% when done regularly.
3. Walking Reduces Cancer—
Study after study has shown that walking can drastically reduce chances of colon and breast cancer when done consistently.
FitWalk.org has stated that walking reduces colon cancer for women by 31%, and can also alter the ratio of estrogen metabolites to lower the chances of developing breast cancer.
And even though many would assume that women with breast cancer should only rest while fighting the disease, walking 45 minutes a day can actually be beneficial for breast cancer patients.
4. Walking Improves Cardiovascular Health—
By increasing the blood flow throughout the body and raising the heart rate, walking makes the heart stronger and lowers cholesterol, too.
People who walk 3 hours a week can also reduce chances of heart disease and upper respiratory infections, making a daily walk a great way to stay healthy during flu season—or any season, for that matter.
5. Walking Lengthens Lifespan—
It has been estimated that walking can increase a person’s longevity by reducing inflammation in the body, which lessens arthritis, macular degeneration, and other immune response-related aging issues to allow for better health and quality of life.
Scientists have proven with studies that walking also keeps the brain young, reducing dementia by up to 54% and improving memory.
6. Walking Burns Calories—
Even if you change nothing else about your diet or lifestyle, it has been proven that 45 minutes of walking a day will initiate weight loss for most people.
If you’re serious about getting in shape, of course, you’ll try to consume healthier foods and less calories. But if you’re in a weight loss slump or plateau phase, it’s good to know you can use walking to move forward and achieve your goals.
7. Walking Gives Energy—
Especially if you walk in the morning, the improved blood circulation can really give the body and mind a boost in energy that will last throughout the day, and get your metabolism revved up as well.
Another way walking gives us energy is by allowing the body to receive enough daily exercise to sleep well at night, helping us feel more alert the next day after a good night’s sleep.
If you’d like to change (or possibly even save) your life by starting a walking regimen, go slowly at first, walking 10-15 minutes daily the first week and gradually building your time up to 30-60 minutes a session.
Walking is a wonderful way for anyone at any fitness level to enter the world of exercise to eventually work up to more intense workouts without injury, if desired. Or you can simply keep walking, as it’s already an excellent way to stay in shape. Hopefully the many benefits of walking listed above have motivated you to get moving and start walking today.