Deciding to live a healthier lifestyle is a big step to take, and research has shown that literal steps can also improve your overall well-being. Walking is a practice that many people do every day. It can also be the stride that some need to get back on track.
A study in 2011 found that healthy adults take between 4,000 and 18,000 steps per day, and healthy adults should strive to reach 10,000 steps each day. You can start to feel better emotionally, physically, and even spiritually when you decide to take that first step. Check out these various reasons for how walking can elevate your health to a whole new level.
Walking Can Help You Lose Weight
It is common for adults to struggle with a healthy weight as they become older. Adding a brisk walk to a daily schedule can be an effective way to maintain or even lose weight. Walking, like other forms of physical activity, burns calories.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a 30-minute brisk walk added to a daily routine burns approximately 150 more calories. The amount of calories burned depends upon the duration of the trail and the pace. Significant weight loss is achieved when you combine exercise with a sensible calorie reduction in your diet.
To burn fat while you walk, it is essential to walk fast enough to raise the heart rate into an optimal zone for burning fat for energy. You also walk to walk long enough so that you are burning stored fat and not just the sugars that the body saves for quick bursts of energy.
The fat-burning zone is reached when exercise causes the heart rate to be 60 to 70 percent of the maximum heart rate. At this intensity, approximately 85 percent of calories burned are fats, while 5 percent are proteins, and 10 percent are carbohydrates. Exercise can be even more critical after a weight loss. This helps prevent the individual from gaining the weight back and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Those who are beginning an exercise program should consider walking as a way to ease into a routine. Because walking is already a part of everyday life, it is a practice that many people are comfortable with.
It is suggested that before you begin a walking routine, you should familiarize yourself with the basics and test your comfort levels. If it has been a while since you have been active, then scale back and work your way up to 30 minutes to an hour.
Research has shown that short bursts of physical activity can lead to significant results. In 2013, experts analyzed 6,000 adults who wore accelerators for at least four days. The study proved that those who exercised in bouts of 10 minutes or less but accumulated enough activity to add up to 30 minutes a day fared as well health-wise as those who exercised for more extended periods.
Walking can be a perfect activity for those with busy schedules and who are not able to commit to hour-long workout sessions. It could be a quick stroll in the morning, a quick walk around the block during lunch, or an evening trip around the neighborhood. Most people could fit in a 10-minute walk in their daily routines.
After someone begins a daily walking regimen, experts estimate that results can be noticed within about two weeks. Many of the health benefits like decreased blood pressure and improved energy levels felt that early could then be used as motivation to keep going.
It is essential to stick to a routine for increased results. Experts suggest switching up the routine by increasing intensity levels and finding a new walking route as ways to keep the walking activity fun and enjoyable.
Walkers can optimize their results by perfecting their technique. Experts state that you should hold your head up and look straight ahead. You should not look at the ground while you are walking because it helps exude confidence.
Walkers should also keep their neck, shoulders, and back relaxed. Walking too stiff can make you feel more tired and sore after your workout. It is also vital to swing your arms naturally with a slightly bent elbow. You should also tighten your stomach muscles and breathe while you enjoy your walk.
Studies have shown that regular walking reduces the risk of a heart attack. Those who walked every day were tested and found that the activity lowered the amount of LDL, or bad, cholesterol and increased the amount of HDL, or good cholesterol in the bloodstream.
With a healthier heart, you can strengthen its performance. As the heart gets stronger, it tends to send more blood per heartbeat and decreases the exercise heart rate.
Other studies have shown that brisk walking can produce the same kind of health benefits as running. Research from the University of California Berkley found that it was not about how long you walk or run but how far.
Over the six-year study, researchers discovered that there were similar reductions in the risk for heart disease and other significant conditions for walkers as it were for runners. It has also been stressed that walking may be even more beneficial because the activity causes less stress to the ankles and other leg ligaments than jogging or running.
Diabetes is a condition where someone is living with a high blood sugar count. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million Americans are living with the disease, and more than a million people do not even know they have come down with the condition.
A British scientist revealed that a 30-minute walk protects against obesity and type 2 diabetes, making the primary form of exercise a helpful tool in fighting the disease. Dr. James Brown stated that regular walking helped patients control and improve the levels of blood sugar in their systems.
Prediabetes is a condition where the blood sugar level is higher than usual. Many prediabetic patients are told that they need to make some dietary and lifestyle changes before the state becomes diabetes.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking between 30 and 60 minutes each day can be the best arthritis pain reliever. A regular walking routine helps strengthen muscles and shifts pressure from joints. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which also helps reduce arthritis.
The routine also compresses and releases cartilage in the knees, which helps circulate the synovial fluid that brings oxygen to nourish the joints. This circulation also removes any inflammatory waste products in the joints.
Because walking is a necessary exercise, there can be modifications to help those who are affected by arthritis. Some of the changes include taking shorter strides to reduce the impact on joints and wearing supportive braces and devices.
It is also essential to use proper posture and keep your upper body relaxed and your core engaged. You should also keep your head upright throughout your walk. Walking on even soft surfaces will also make the exercise easier on your joints.
Daily walking has been proven to be quite helpful in uplifting someone’s mental attitude. It is important to take time for yourself, and carving out an hour every day can do wonders for your overall outlook.
A walk is an opportunity to clear the cobwebs in your head, breathe in the fresh air, and connect with the environment all around you. You will be amazed at what time can do for your mental attitude.
Walking can not only help put you in a better mood; it has also been proven to help those who are afflicted with depression effectively. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 adults in the U.S. suffers from depression.
A 2015 study showed that moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, could improve the quality of life in depressed middle-aged women. Those who walked about 200 minutes each week reported feeling more energetic, were more likely to socialize with peers, and felt better emotionally. They also said they did not think they were as limited by the depression when researchers followed up three years later.
Incorporating a walking routine can also help build strong bones. Osteoblasts are the cells that produce new bone, and they respond well to stress. This means that after you start walking, your bones will get stronger because you are adding stress to them.
After you have developed a routine, you can continue to add minutes to add stress and strengthen the bones. Walking is considered a tremendous weight-bearing exercise to help promote proper bone health.
Because activities like walking have positive effects on muscle strength and balance, they also reduce fall risk and lower the chances of breaking a bone. Studies have also shown that walking slows down the age-related decline in bone density.
Walking influences factors that preserve bone strength. It can be especially helpful to those who are at risk of hip fracture. Walking more and faster has been associated with reducing that risk.
Exercise releases endorphins, which is a neurochemical that promotes mental health and decreases sensitivity to stress. Regular workouts have also been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is involved in verbal memory and learning.
In addition to being a morale booster, walking also improves overall cognitive function as studies have shown that those who participated in aerobic activities, such as walking, were able to perform better on tests because they had a quicker and more accurate reaction time.
Walking May Help Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Several studies have shown that walking at a moderate intensity for thirty minutes each day increased the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, a protein that is essential for development and cognitive function.
As people get older, there tend to be more problem areas. The body loses muscle tone over the years, and many are concerned about the size of their butts and outer thighs. A daily walking routine can be an excellent way to increase the lost muscle tone in legs as well as the glutes.
Walking every day firms the leg muscles as well as the glute muscles, especially routines that involve uphill walking. As a bonus, swing your arms back and forth so that the arms can also be toned during your workout.
Getting up and moving may be just the thing you need to be more creative. A 2014 Stanford confirmed that walking improved a person’s creative output by an average of 60 percent.
By examining the creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat, the researchers discovered that those who walked were able to benefit from boosts of inspiration and surmised that walking could be the “perfect antidote for writer’s block.”
A daily walking routine can provide an opportunity for meditation and thoughtful reflection. One of the basic methods for mindfulness is participating in walking meditation, which involves a close focus on the physical experience of walking and participating in the different and small components of each step.
While walking meditation is a practiced skill that has to develop over time, many feel that the more they walk, the more it feels like it is part of your being. Several people swear that this integration of mindfulness can be shared in other areas of life as well.
With mindful walking, you can feel your mind growing quieter. As you become more aware of your surroundings and how you breathe, you can start to enjoy the environment and scenery around you.
According to the Chopra Center, the transcendent moments can make you feel like time is standing still. This feeling of moving into an unbounded realm beyond thought and time is called Atma Darshan and is also known as a glimpse into the soul.
Aerobic exercises like walking increase the workload on the lungs, where the sympathetic nerves are stimulated, and your respiratory muscles are put into overdrive. This action increases your breathing rate and allows byproducts from the muscles to stimulate respiratory nerves in the brainstem. A slightly elevated blood pressure opens blood flow to the air sacs in the lungs.
This process produces more oxygen in the blood, and increased lung capacity has been shown to keep your lungs healthier for longer.
Walking has been proven to decrease COPD symptoms and improve the level of breathing in patients. Many health care providers have suggested aerobic exercises like walking as a way to stimulate significant muscle groups to move at a steady and rhythmic pace.
This pace works both the hearts and lungs; over time, patients see an improvement in their endurance. The body can use oxygen more efficiently and improve breathing.
Those who maintain a regular walking schedule have reported improved balance and physical ability. This notion is especially important as people get older so that they can increase the control of their movements. Losing the ability to move quickly and effectively often results in unexpected falls and injuries.
Exercising muscles daily by walking can be a way to slow down the process. Experts suggest starting with a walk at a brisk pace while carrying five-pound weights in each hand. This can help increase dexterity in your fingers.
A regular walking schedule has been found to have extensive benefits for digestion. Experts say that a post-meal walk can be the best practice to improve digestion and also speed up the rate at which food moves through the stomach and the rest of the system.
While walking is associated with burning calories and a host of other benefits, it also allows the food to move through the digestive system more quickly because a walker is in motion and is using better posture. Anyone who suffers from digestion-related discomfort may want to consider adding a daily stroll for 30 minutes as a way to alleviate the symptoms.
In addition to helping walkers feel younger physically, walking has been proven to help individuals look more youthful as well. The exercise tightens up sagging skin and firm muscle tone, and it also stimulates the blood flow to a person’s skin.
Feeling young has a lot to do with not having a loss of physical activity, function, and being able to do more. This is something that can be accomplished with a regular walking routine. Your face will see more color and vibrancy. Studies have also shown that being out in the fresh air on a daily basis can make you look and feel younger too.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that, unlike other nutrients, is not found naturally in many foods. It can often be added to others or offered as a dietary supplement. However, vitamin D is produced within the body when sunlight strikes the skin and triggers synthesis.
Walking each day – especially outside – gives participants more natural exposure to vitamin D. A few minutes in the sun can do wonders for a person’s mood as well as promote calcium absorption in the body.
Getting into a walking routine may help patients reduce the risk of getting cancer, according to research. Those who are involved in a more active lifestyle have a 24 percent lower chance of getting colon cancer.
Walking and other activities can help diminish other cancer risks, as well. Women who work out are also less likely to develop breast cancer. Esophageal, liver, and others are also reported to be reduced by regular exercise because it lowers the level of some hormones in the body. Walking also increases the amount of oxygen flowing through the body.
Cancer is a severe disease, and often, people can feel lost about what to do to help fight off the condition. Other studies have shown that a brisk walking routine could have benefits for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.
A couple of studies at a cancer conference revealed that exercise was a powerful tool to slow down and even cut down the risk of death from cancer, even for those in the most advanced stages.
Chronic insomnia is a condition that affects millions of people, keeping them from having a good night’s rest because they either awake too early in the morning, or cannot maintain restful sleep. Studies have shown that those who engage in daily exercise report fewer problems with sleeplessness.
A moderate routine involving daily walks can alleviate many of the physical symptoms that cause insomnia. Those include better weight management and better circulatory health. It also allows for a smoother transition between the different phases of sleep.
Getting more rest at night is especially important for those who suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are just a few of those conditions.
A study looked at the effects of a single exercise session, and it was found that moderate exercise increased the length of sleep of people with chronic sleep conditions. As little as 10 minutes of walking can dramatically improve the patients’ quality of sleep.
PMS is not a pleasant experience for many women, and some of the symptoms, like cramps, can be especially painful. Some studies have shown that low-impact exercises like walking can reduce the severity of those symptoms.
Experts suggest taking a brisk walk when the cramps begin, and the activity will alleviate the pain. This is likely in part because the endorphins being released in your brain help put you in a better mood. Walking can also help with other symptoms, like fatigue, bloating, and food cravings.
Studies have shown that daily walking improves muscle strength, mind-body coordination, and other physical activities. It has also been proven that walking every day can improve the sex drive in both men and women.
An increased sense of self-esteem is one of the reasons for the reported increase. Other studies have shown that walking improves circulation and blood flow in patients who are suffering from erectile dysfunction. Doctors suggest men walk two miles a day to maintain a healthy sex drive.
Walking not only helps those who are premenstrual; it has also been proven to benefit those who are going through menopause, which is the time in a woman’s life when her period stops. It happens when the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone.
A study conducted on women aged 55 to 72 years old showed that those who were involved in regular routines experienced far fewer symptoms than those who did not participate in the exercise.
Finding out you are pregnant can be an exciting time, but for many women, it can be a physically demanding time of their life. When a woman becomes pregnant, the joints tend to soften, which could lead to more injuries.
Doctors often recommend daily walking as a way to stay active and healthy during pregnancy. The low-impact activity allows the heart and muscles to remain healthy without any risk of damage that higher-intensity workouts might present. Maintaining a healthy shape can also help in the delivery.
Keeping and maintaining friendships is an integral part of life, and many people have said that they have met new friends and neighbors by taking regular walks. It is beneficial for your overall health and enjoyment of life. It can also improve mental attitude and reduce feelings of isolation because you can spend time with people you enjoy.
Many people claim to have met new friends and neighbors by regularly taking a daily walk. Meeting new people and making new friends has a definite benefit to your overall health and enjoyment of life. It improves your mental attitude and helps reduce isolation.
Whether the reason, committing to a daily walk can be the first step in getting your life back on track. If you are suffering from a chronic illness, want to lose a few pounds, or are just wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, walking may be what you need to get you started.
Talk with your doctor before you begin any exercise regimen. Once you are given the all-clear, get moving, put one foot in front of the other and start feeling better than you have ever thought you could!