What Are the Benefits of Walking?
Walking is such an underrated exercise! How many of us give it a second thought when we are going about our daily business?
When stopping to think about that last question, how many of us realise that we actually spend a lot of time in the car, on public transport or sedentary, staring at screens?
For this post, I wanted to remind you about the benefits of what we have access to, and have control of, that contributes to our good health.
The speed, duration and frequency can be adjusted to suit you*. You can do it alone, anywhere, and year-round. It’s facility-free and, it doesn’t cost a thing!
Does Walking Reduce Inflammation?
Persistent, sub-clinical inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. As well as disabilities that come with aging.
Keeping chronic inflammation at bay is essential for your overall health – through what you eat, think, how you move, and your lifestyle.
Physical inactivity is linked with low-grade systemic inflammation, as is inappropriate physical activity.
Regular walking exerts anti-inflammation and can assist with protecting against those diseases associated with low-grade systemic inflammation.
Diseases such as obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and pulmonary and neurological conditions, for instance.
What Exercise Burns Fat?
2. Fat Burning
Walking is so good for fat burning. What happens is that we break down triglycerides when we take regular walks.
Fats are liberated from adipocytes into free fatty acids that flood into your circulation. Muscles, lungs, and heart pick up these fatty acids and utilize their energy.
What is left are the byproducts: water, which is eliminated as urine and sweat, and carbon dioxide, which is breathed out from your lungs!
It is a great way to feel energized, for body composition, and improve muscular strength.
Is Walking Good for Stress?
3. Lowers Stress
Stress comes in many mental, emotional, and physical forms, and produces so many symptoms, and is an inevitable part of life.
It is anything that triggers the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol regularly.
Cortisol is needed in the body and touches every single system, playing a huge part in assisting the body when dealing with stress.
It is also vital for regulating many processes like metabolism, influencing blood pressure, and immune response.
When you are experiencing stress frequently, though, and cortisol is triggered from the adrenals more often, this is when it becomes a problem.
Of course, then the vicious cycle begins because when the body has inflammation, then mental stress is increased.
As part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, walking lowers cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones.
It also promotes the release of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters which will send signals of calm, relaxation, and pleasure to the mind and body.
What Exercise Is Good for Mental Health?
4. Improves Brain Health
Again, because it induces the production of the neurotransmitters endorphins and dopamine, walking is so good for your brain health.
Endorphins interact with receptors in your brain that reduce pain perception. They decrease sensitivity to pain and stress and can make you feel euphoric.
Walking will lessen the risk of depression and anxiety, improve cognitive functions and affect your emotional health because it reduces neuroinflammation, increases cerebral flow, and activates neurotransmitters.
There is so much involved with brain health, but basically, reducing neuroinflammation, and increasing cerebral flow brings nutrients to your brain cells and removes toxins.
Also, the Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor is an essential protein for neuronal health, cognitive thinking, depression, and such, which is released with walking.
Should You Rest With Joint Pain?
5. Gentle on the Joints
Because it is a low-impact exercise, walking does not exert any strain on your knees, hips, and ankles. Sometimes the pain is a way to say that you need to take it easy but many conditions will become worse if you rest too much, as joints were made to move.
Combined with anti-inflammatory food and a low inflammation lifestyle in general, walking is a super way to exercise to protect your joints, and also if you have swelling.
If you have arthritis, for instance, walking can relieve pain, stiffness, and swelling by lubricating the joints and strengthening supporting muscles.
Can You Exercise With Heart Conditions?
6. Improves Heart Health
Walking improves cardiorespiratory fitness, so it will protect you from cardiovascular disease. As you walk, your heart rate increases lowering blood pressure by improving blood flow.
When regular walks are taken there is a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, peripheral artery disease and so on.
Run it by your healthcare provider about what other forms of exercise you can do.
What Exercise Will Lower Blood Sugar?
7. Good For Blood Sugar
When you walk, insulin sensitivity is increased, so your muscle cells can use any available insulin to take up glucose.
Walking helps the muscles use more glucose, the sugar in your bloodstream, and use it for energy whether insulin is available or not.
So, when done regularly, it is a natural way to lower your blood sugar levels.
Does Walking Help Your Immune System?
8 Enhances Immunity
Regular walking will boost your body’s defense system and ward off infections.
Getting the blood circulating helps the white blood cells in the immune system roam around as needed, fighting off pathogens.
Because walking reduces stress, too, this assists with immune defense because stress causes impaired immunity.
Is Walking Good for Sleep?
9. Improves Sleep
It goes without saying that the more active you are, the more likely you will sleep better, but it isn’t just that alone.
Walking, as mentioned, is beneficial for reducing stress and aids mental well-being, which will help your quality of sleep.
*Depending on when you walk also, walking will have an effect on your melatonin secretion and natural circadian rhythm.
Does Walking Boost Your Creativity?
10. Aids Creativity
Walking taps into the different parts of our brain (dependent on the type of creativity domain) and truly promotes creativity.
Whether it is visual, musical, verbal, or visuospatial… walking is the perfect antidote to getting creative, as it refreshes the mind and eliminates distractions.
Shifting writer’s block or coming up with an idea often comes from a good walk!
Should You Walk Every Day?
*There’s a comprehensive version of this article, including speed and timings, in the Walking Guide for Eat Burn Sleep Members here, as part of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle advice to reduce inflammation with efficacy.
Whether it is your lunch break stroll around the block, in the park, on the treadmill or as part of your commute, walking is so good for you.
If you can find some green, natural space, then this will be even more beneficial.
Walking in nature is even healthier, as you do earthing simultaneously and boost vitamin D levels. It improves your mood and lowers cortisol.
It can be calming and a time to reflect, tuning into what is around you and clearing your head.
Put your phone in your pocket. Let your brain have a rest from focused attention. You never know what you will discover!
Breathe deep. Free your mind.
It’s also a reminder that some of the best things in life are free!
Have a wonderful day!