The Health Benefits Of Walking
If you’re anything like me, exercise has never been at the top of your priority list. You’re probably too busy and have better things to do with your time. You might have health concerns that make vigorous exercise challenging or unwise.
However, there are significant health concerns associated with a completely sedentary lifestyle. Thankfully, even a mild to moderate amount of exercise can show benefits and help you improve your health.
If you’re just getting started, it’s wise to increase your fitness level a little bit at a time. Start with a duration and distance that feels accessible. If you have an age-related or health-related condition or are recovering from surgery or an illness, this might be as little as a walk down the hallway or around the block once a week. Even if you have an injury or asthma, you can start with as little as you’re capable of and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Go a little further each time, and then add a day each week, and then another. You want to get to the point that your heart rate and breathing pick up a bit. If you have joint issues, you may have better results with shorter distances more frequently, or at a faster pace.
Even a small amount more activity can be good for your health, but ideally, you want to work your way up to around an hour a day. More vigorous exercise can offer additional benefits, so consider adding some intervals to your route. Alternate walking with jogging, sprinting or climbing stairs.
As you increase the duration or intensity of your walks, you’ll want to make sure that you’re supporting your body in a healthy manner. Invest in shoes that fit you well and are suited to the type of activity that you’re doing. Fitness equipment can be pricey, but it can be a big help investing in MicroModal fabrics that keep socks odorless when it comes to men’s compression socks and other footwear that will be worn frequently. Supportive and compression wear is great for people with joint weakness and circulatory issues to avoid injury and maintain health.
Resistance training is another type of activity that can offer significant benefits with minimal impact. You can use your body weight in exercises such as squats, planks or other callisthenic or yoga movements to strengthen muscles, burn fat and improve overall health. Weightlifting is also excellent for your health, and with a good trainer, can be very safe. Scale down or up as needed for many different levels of ability.
However, just taking a walk is enough to improve your health. Here’s how:
Lowers Blood Pressure
Taking a walk at a pace that gets your heart beating faster and your respiration increasing guards against heart attack, lowers blood pressure and strengthens your heart. Regular walks can lower your risk of heart attack by 35%. Its benefit for the circulatory system can ease and slow progression of varicose veins and other cosmetic and health-related circulatory issues.
Improves Bone Density
Osteoporosis and weakened joints and bones can occur in sedentary and elderly people. Walking is a mild-impact activity. The effort of sustaining and moving your bodyweight combined with the light impact of each step provides enough natural resistance that it strengthens your bones as opposed to very low-impact activities such as biking or swimming, but with less intensity than running or vigorous workouts.
Exercise releases endorphins, making you feel calmer and happier. Exposure to nature, including greenery, fresh air and vitamin D from the sun all make you more resistant to stress, more relaxed, less susceptible to depression and anxiety, and happier. It’s also great for creativity, possibly by giving your brain unstructured free time to make creative connections. Take a notebook along on your walk!
Guards against Memory Loss
Walking has various benefits when it comes to memory loss and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and forms of dementia. It encourages brain cell growth and reduces inflammation. It also improves symptoms of dementia and similar diseases by maintaining overall health, improving balance and bone density, reducing the risk of injury and reducing stress and inflammation.
Keeps you Healthier, Period
Regular walks can guard against metabolic syndrome and a whole host of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, some cancers, and strokes. It can help you lose weight, avoid gaining weight, improve muscle tone and body form, keep your digestive system functioning optimally, improve your skin by increasing collagen production and make you look younger.
Walking is an accessible activity that anyone can do to improve many different measures of health. Use appropriate gear to compensate for injuries, support weaknesses and make yourself comfortable. Start slow and small, with a duration, frequency, and intensity that suits your needs.