It’s no secret that moving your body is good for your health. But while many of us think that means running or lifting weights, hard exercise isn’t actually your only option. Walking is one of the most underrated ways to keep your mind and body in shape. It’s easy, accessible and can be done almost anywhere. So grab your walking shoes, and let’s explore some of the ways that walking can improve your health!
1. Walking can help with weight loss
You don’t have to go running, biking or do other strenuous activities to shed extra pounds. Walking is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and promote weight loss. It may be slower and less intense than those activities, but it yields many of the same benefits. The number of calories burned depends on your weight, the distance you walk and your pace, but going on regular strolls can help reduce body fat and boost your metabolism—and it’s easier on your joints!
2. Getting your steps promotes heart health
Finding time to lace up your sneakers and take a stroll is a great way to get your heart pumping. Whether you do the trendy 12-3-30 on the treadmill or prefer to get your steps in outside, walking can raise your heart rate and breathing, which increases blood flow throughout your body, lowers blood pressure and improves overall heart health, according to research.1
3. Walking improves brain function
Building up your step count isn’t just good for your physical health, but your cognitive health too. Walking increases blood flow to your brain and stimulates the growth of new brain cells. In fact, walking regularly is linked to improved memory, better concentration and a lower risk of age-related cognitive decline.
4. Step your way to a better mood
If you’re feeling stressed, sad or even frustrated, taking some time to move your body can help clear your mind and boost your mood, according to studies.2 Walking releases endorphins, natural chemicals that make you feel happy or euphoric. It’s especially helpful to walk outside; getting some fresh air can reduce stress and anxiety, helping you feel more at ease.
5. Walking can help you sleep better at night
If you’re not getting quality shuteye, make it a priority to go for go for a walk on your lunch break. Exposure to daylight can help to adjust your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. That reset can make your feel more alert during the day and sleep better at night.
The repetitive motion of walking can also help soothe and calm your nervous system—making you feel more relaxed. This is especially helpful if racing thoughts make it hard for you to wind down at the end of the day. If a busy mind is keeping you up at night, walking is a great way to bring sleep back in reach.
6. Moving your body helps with digestion
If you often feel bloated or gassy or have indigestion after meals, try going for a walk after you eat. It can lessen these symptoms by increasing blood flow to your intestines and promote peristalsis, the contraction of your intestinal muscles that move food through your digestive system. Avoid walking too soon or too fast after eating, which can lead to stomach upset or nausea. It’s best to start walking about 15-20 minutes after finishing your meal and to keep your pace slow and comfortable.
How much should you walk?
The distance and time you should walk will vary depending on your health goals, diet and other activities, but for most healthy people, about 7k-10k steps (3.5- 5 miles) a day is considered the sweet spot. If you don’t want to track your steps, aim for 30 minutes a day of brisk walking.
How to increase your steps
If you’re struggling to get out and stretch your legs, here are some tips to make it easier:
- Take a walk during your lunch break
- Walk with a friend
- Listen to music or a podcast
- Take the stairs
- Park farther away
- Track your progress and celebrate your achievements. Use a pedometer, an app or a journal to record your steps, distance, time, mood, etc.
Walking is one of the easiest exercises you can do to stay healthy: It’s a simple and an effective way to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Whether you’re out in nature or on a treadmill at the gym, walking is a fun and creative way to get moving and stay healthy. So, grab a friend or your favorite podcast and go hit the bricks!
Check out how to manage stress with exercise next: 4 tips to work it out from a dietitian
Shirley is a Nutritionist with a Bachelor’s in Human Food & Nutrition with an emphasis in Sports Nutrition. To Shirley, there is nothing more gratifying than helping someone to meet their health and personal goals while making long-term connections.
Shirley is just one of the many experts at Persona who are here to accelerate your wellness journey. If you have questions about nutrition or your personalized program, reach out now or book a free appointment with Shirley or another of our amazing nutritionists.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.