Walking is one of the easiest exercises that anyone can do. It requires little equipment, no training, poses almost no risks, and can be fit into nearly any busy schedule. If you only have time to walk at night, don’t give up walking – invest in a treadmill. The health benefits you get from walking make it worth it no matter how you do it.
Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week, which you can do in about 20 minutes of walking per day. Even with kids, work, and a crammed evening schedule, I still get my daily walking in (most of the time). That’s because I know the major health benefits it poses. Read on to learn these 5 reasons to make walking part of your daily routine.
1. You Could Lose Weight
One of the main benefits of walking is that you’ll burn calories, which helps you maintain or lose weight. Of course, walking faster, longer, and on uphill terrain will burn more, but not everyone needs to jog around their neighborhood like Rocky Balboa on his victory lap. Most of us just need to make light walking a consistent part of our routine.
Treadmills can help you track your calorie burn, but most of us will benefit enough from a regular light walking schedule without keeping an exercise journal or a specific calorie count.
2. Your Heart Will Be Healthier
That 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day is all you need to reduce your risk of heart disease by 15 percent or more, according to some studies. This is great news for everyone since heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. Regular walking isn’t a niche past time – it’s a great way for absolutely everyone to reduce their risk for the thing most likely to kill them.
If you walk longer and harder, you can reduce your risk more. But most of us need consistency more than a beat-down. Don’t aim for an Olympic training regimen. Instead, walk 20-30 minutes for your heart and do it every day.
3. Your Immune Function Will Be Improved
With cold and flu season coming up, we all know how being sick can throw off a busy schedule. Walking can boost your immune system by getting things moving. Your heart and digestion get a healthy boost and your body bulks up its flu defenses as a result.
The increase in oxygen that comes with walking even gives you a boost of energy as a reward.
4. Your Mood Will Be Better
Walking has been shown to balance our hormones to help regulate stress. Increased heart activity and oxygen flow lowers cortisol and boosts epinephrine. This has a natural mood-improving effect.
Our mood can be fickle, but it’s nice to know that walking can approach it from several angles. Not only do your hormones get a little help but losing your love handles can help you de-stress indirectly. Feeling better about yourself may not be a conventional health benefit, but it can have a huge impact on well-being regardless.
5. You Can Reduce Body Pain
Whether your body pain is chronic, related to conditions like arthritis, age-related joint pain, or an injury, or just weekly wear and tear weighing heavily on your joints and back, walking can help.
With the right posture – standing straight but remaining loose in your arms and back – walking can reinforce good muscle mechanics. Stabilizing your pelvis and strengthening muscles can help take the load off knee and hip joints. Losing weight doesn’t hurt either.
Walking has general health benefits that add on to each other. The heart activity comes with reduced risk of disease, less extra weight, better immune health, and balanced hormones. These things improve your mood and can even reduce chronic body pain.
A consistent walking schedule isn’t only for arthritis sufferers. Anyone owes it to themselves to squeeze 20 minutes of walking into their daily schedule to give their bodies a boost, whether it’s to bulk up immunity for flu season or just to get things moving during the busy week ahead.