Walking to Good Health

Mar 01, 2024

Benefits of Walking

Anyone who does not suffer from a physical disability that affects the use of their legs can walk. And almost all of us do. Whether it is just moving from the sofa to the kitchen for a cup of coffee or walking kilometers a day as a part of work, walking is an action and activity we take for granted. While we all know that walking is good for our health, many do not appreciate the benefits it offers and the positive impact it can have on our physical, mental and even spiritual well-being. When the many ways by which walking helps us are understood, it acts as a motivator to walk more and improve our overall health.

The benefits of walking will depend on the speed at which you walk, the distance you cover, the terrain and the climatic conditions. A regular walking schedule will be more beneficial than irregular or occasional walking. If climatic or other conditions restrict the amount of outdoor walking that is possible, using a treadmill will provide the same health benefits.

Here are some of the ways by which this free, convenient, comfortable and essential activity promotes good health.

Calorie Burn

Walking is a great way to burn calories which will in turn help you control your weight or lose excess body fat. It will also help in toning up your legs, back and abdominal muscles and by doing so will allow you to become more active and will increase your energy and range of movement.

Also Read: Pain in Sole of the Foot – Do Not Ignore It

Strengthen Legs

We tend to take the ability to walk for granted. It is only when we have problems with our legs that we really appreciate how important walking is to our daily lives and activities. Regular walking keeps the leg muscles toned and reduces the risk of developing medical conditions that could affect the ability to walk and impact overall mobility.

Cardiac Health

It has been found that walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, will reduce a person’s risk of heart disease by approximately 19%. Any further increase in the amount of walking will reduce the risk of cardiac conditions even further.

Lower Blood Sugar

Those with high blood sugar levels may find that short 15-minute walks after breakfast, lunch and dinner will help bring down blood sugar levels more effectively than a single long walk each day. While the benefits of these short walks regarding blood sugar levels are still being studied, there is no argument that short walks are beneficial to health and for some, this may be easier to fit into a daily schedule than one daily walk of a longer duration.

Boost Immunity

A recent study that tracked volunteers during a season when viral infections were high found that those who walked for about 45 minutes a day had 40% fewer sick days than those who did not walk regularly. This was especially true for those prone to upper respiratory tract infections. Even among those who did fall sick, it was observed that the overall symptoms and severity of the condition were milder when compared to those who were sedentary.

Increase Energy

When we feel tired it is normal to rest for a while or consume tea or coffee to boost energy levels. While these are effective, going for a walk may be even more effective. Walking increases the amount of oxygen that the body absorbs and boosts oxygen flow through the metabolic system. It also increases the levels of hormones such as norepinephrine, cortisol and epinephrine which boost energy levels.

Avoid Joint Problems

The joints of the body, especially those of the knees and hips, are subject to a lot of strain. Walking helps in keeping the joints lubricated and by doing so, reduces the stress on them. Walking also strengthens the muscles that support the joints. Regular walking may help to reduce the effects of arthritis and is thought to even help in preventing the disease from developing.

Mood Upliftment

The fast pace of modern life can increase mental stress and strain. Studies show that walking can help increase our ability to relax and reduce depression, anxiety and negative moods. Walking with friends is an effective way to boost social interaction and strengthen the bonds of friendship.

Also Read: 7 Proven Ways to Live a Heart Healthy Life

Cognitive Improvement

A study was conducted in which people were asked to think of new ideas, concepts, ways of doing things, etc. while they were sitting and then while they were walking. The study showed that the participants were more creative and innovative while walking than while sitting. Those walking outdoors did better than those who walked indoors.

Add Years to Your Life

Research has found that walking at a brisk rate of 6 km an hour reduces the risk of early death due to medical reasons by about 20%. This included deaths from cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

It is never too late to start walking. It is an effective form of exercise for all ages and fitness levels. Many people find that once the benefits of walking become apparent, they are motivated to go in for other forms of exercise which will enhance their progression to even better health and wellness. Do not expect miracle results from walking. The effects will become apparent slowly but they will last for a long time.

Walking is a safe and effective form of exercise and can be done with no fear of any side-effects. However, if you have recently had medical treatment and your doctors have advised against physical activity, medical approval should be obtained before starting a walking regimen. Also, if you suffer any form of discomfort while walking, consult a doctor without delay. A multispecialty hospital is the best resource because the various medical disciplines that may be required to diagnose and treat ailments that may have a negative impact on the benefits of walking will all be available in one place.

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