Now Reading
13 Health Benefits of Walking Everyone Should Know About

13 Health Benefits of Walking Everyone Should Know About

Avatar
health benefits of walking

KEYPHRASE: health benefits of walking

13 Health Benefits of Walking Everyone Should Know About

Winter has thawed into spring, and we’re all happy about it. (I know I, for one, have had enough freakish winter weather to last me for quite some time, thank you very much, Texas!) And in some cases, life is starting to look something a little closer to normal after the past year. With summer peeking around the corner and an itch to get out of the house and go…anywhere else, really…that could maybe even mean an actual vacation for some! And a normal summer means normal summer things: the beach, the lake, the pool. But with those happy thoughts also comes another not-so-happy thought: bathing suits. After months and months of sitting around the house forming serious relationships with Netflix, Amazon, and every food delivery app available, many of us have not been as active as we might otherwise have been, and it’s beginning to show. And worse, now we’re out of the habit. So whether you’re a little rusty in the exercise department and need a little motivation to get back in the groove or if you are just beginning your health journey, let’s talk about some of the amazing health benefits of walking. 

Keep it simple

Most of the time keeping things simple really is better, and that can apply to exercise. For example, did you know that simply going for a walk regularly can change your life? That’s right, changing your life might be as easy as just starting to “put one foot in front of the other.” Starting off small to make big changes always reminds me of this scene of the Winter Warlock from Santa Clause is Coming to Town:

Here are some of the health benefits of walking you can have in your life by enjoying such a simple yet effective activity.

1. Helps maintain a healthy weight 

2. Improves digestion

3. Strengthens heart

4. Boosts immune function, reduces risk of chronic disease

5. Delays onset of varicose veins

6. Alleviates joint pain

7. Boosts energy

8. Better sleep

9. Improves mood

10. Promotes mental clarity and creativity

11. Releases tension

12. Increases vitamin D

13. Motivates you to achieve other goals

1. Helps maintain a healthy weight

One of the health benefits of walking that directly affects our bathing suits is that it helps maintain a healthy weight. Walking regularly speeds up the metabolism by burning extra calories. Not only that, but over time walking can also improve your body’s response to insulin, lowering blood sugar levels and reducing stubborn belly fat. 

To start getting the fullest of these benefits, aim for walking at least 10,000 steps a day (monitored by a pedometer or Fitbit). To increase the effectiveness of your walks, plan routes that include inclines like hills and alternate between speed walking and a more casual pace.

2. Improves digestion

If you currently suffer from issues related to poor digestion such as irregular bowel movements, you’ll be happy to know that one of the health benefits of walking, especially right after you eat, is that it helps improve digestion. Walking uses core and abdominal muscles which stimulates movement in the gastrointestinal tract. This will result in better consistency and frequency of bowel movements. As your digestion begins to improve, so will your gut health. A healthy gut is extremely important for almost every process in your body, and therefore affects your overall health. 

3. Strengthens heart

One of the most important health benefits of walking is that it is one of the most easily effective ways to strengthen your heart. Walking is an aerobic exercise that brings more oxygen and nutrients to your organs by increasing heart rate and blood circulation. Additionally, studies show that approximately 30 minutes of normal walking for 5 days a week is associated with a 19% reduction in risk for coronary heart disease

4. Boosts immune function, reduces risk of chronic disease

Speaking of reducing the risk of heart disease, more health benefits of walking include reducing the risk of many chronic diseases overall and boosting immune system health. 

As we’ve already discussed, walking helps mediate insulin function and blood sugar levels. This, in turn, lowers the overall risk for diabetes. By increasing blood circulation and decreasing blood pressure, walking also helps lower the risk for coronary heart disease. And by improving digestion and gut health, walking helps prevent a number of chronic illnesses. 

Also, walking has been linked to reducing the risk of breast cancer. In a study by the American Cancer Society amongst women whose only physical activity was walking, those who walked at least 7hrs per week had a 14% lower risk for breast cancer as opposed to those who walked less. And the longer and with more intensity the women walked, the lower their risk dropped. 

5. Delays onset of varicose veins

Another one of the health benefits of walking linked to increased blood flow and improved circulation is that it delays the onset of varicose veins. Varicose veins can be unsightly and painful, and as you age your risk for developing them increases. While they can be the product of poor circulation brought on by a sedentary lifestyle, some people can also simply be genetically predisposed to them. Dr. Navarro, a Board Certified Phlebologist and General Surgeon, explains the relationship between varicose veins and circulation: 

“The venous system includes a circulatory section known as ‘the second heart,’ which is formed by muscles, veins, and valves located in our calf and foot,” he explains. “This system works to push blood back up to the heart and lungs—and walking strengthens this secondary circulatory system by strengthening and preserving leg muscle, which boosts healthy blood flow.”

Therefore, if you currently suffer from varicose veins, some of the pressure, swelling, and pain can be alleviated by the healthy blood flow initiated by walking. Likewise, if you have not developed varicose veins yet but are genetically predisposed to them, walking regularly can delay their onset. 

6. Alleviates joint pain

Looking for ways to ease joint pain? One of the health benefits of walking is that it can help do just that. Joint pain is often caused by inflammation and friction of the joints due to a variety of factors. As opposed to jogging, walking is a low-impact activity that increases blood flow to those tense and inflamed areas. This helps alleviate the inflammation and pain, while also lubricating the joints and protecting them by strengthening the surrounding muscles. In fact, it is this same effect (along with keeping the pressure of extra weight off the joints) that can help prevent the conditions that cause joint pain in the first place, especially in the knees and hips.  

7. Boosts energy

There are many possible causes of fatigue and tiredness, and one of them can be poor circulation. One of the health benefits of walking is that it increases blood flow in the body. This boosts available oxygen needed for cellular reactions to occur, thereby boosting energy. Walking has also been shown to increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These are hormones linked to elevated energy levels. So if you’re needing a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, maybe skip the coffee and get a more effective energy boost from a walk. (And save yourself from spending $9 on a Starbucks latte.)

8. Better sleep

Not only does it help boost your energy, but another one of the health benefits of walking is that it also helps you sleep better! Various studies have shown that regular exercise, including walking, helps to naturally boost the effects of the sleep hormone melatonin. One study specifically on postmenopausal women shows that higher levels of light and moderate-intensity physical activity are associated with better sleep quality. Whereas higher amounts of sedentary time are associated with short sleep and lower quality sleep. 

Walking also encourages more time outdoors in the sunshine. Spending time in the sunshine is proven to help regulate your sleep-wake cycles, making it easier to fall and stay asleep at the right time every night.

Also, as we’ve already discussed, walking helps relieve joint pain. It also helps relieve other pains in the body, tension, and stress, which can all cause disturbances while you sleep.

See Also
super greens powder

9. Improves mood

If you struggle with issues related to your mood, studies show that one of the health benefits of walking is that it can help with your mental health and emotional states, including anger. In general, walking helps to boost your body’s levels of endorphins, which are your “good mood” hormones.  

Aerobic exercises, including walking, have been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods. The improvements in mood are likely caused by the exercise-induced increase of blood circulation to the brain. This positively influences the part of the brain responsible for physiological responses to stress. 

Lifestyle modifications, such as walking more, are a cost-effective way to improve mental health and quality of life. Also, when enjoyed as a group activity with others, walking can help alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Walking with your partner or a good friend can make you feel more connected and happier.

You can get these mental health benefits of walking simply by aiming for 30 minutes of brisk walking at least three days a week. If you find it difficult at first to dedicate a whole 30-minute block of time, you can also break it up into three 10-minute walks throughout the day. These benefits are increased if the walks are taken outside in the sunshine. Especially in the months when seasonal depression starts to kick in. 

10. Promotes mental clarity and creativity

If you’re stuck on a problem at work, experiencing a foggy mind, or in a bit of a creative slump, one of the health benefits of walking is that it’s been shown that going for a walk can help clear your mind and spark creativity. While you walk, especially outside, you are giving your mind the creative rest it needs. Indeed, The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1889) wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” 

Walking improves the development of new and novel ideas. These new ideas can be sparked as you walk, but these effects can also extend to if you do creative work shortly after. In fact, one study included experiments comparing people trying to come up with new ideas while they were walking or sitting. The results showed that people did far better while walking, especially when outdoors. It was concluded that “walking opens up a free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physical activity at the same time.”

11. Releases tension

If your body is feeling stiff, especially from sitting at a desk job all day, one of the health benefits of walking you’ll love is that it helps to relieve tension in your body. It also helps relieve tension-causing stress. The motion of walking warms up and loosens the muscles of your body and gives them a good stretch. This is especially true when you take nice, long strides and gently swing your arms as you walk.

12. Increases vitamin D

One of the best health benefits of walking is that walking usually gets you outside in the sunshine more. Sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” our primary source of vitamin D is produced in our bodies as a response to direct sunlight. However, reports show that about 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient, with certain populations having even higher levels of deficiency. So clearly a lot of people aren’t getting enough sunshine!

But why is vitamin D so important? It is now believed that at least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body are regulated by the active form of vitamin D in our bodies. This includes several involved in calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning. This means that not only is vitamin D important for maintaining a healthy immune system which affects overall health, it is also an integral part of many other systems and processes in our body to function properly and reducing the risk of several diseases.

13. Motivates you to achieve other goals

By disciplining yourself to make walking a regular routine, you’re more likely to keep up with the exercise. And it will help motivate you to achieve other goals and encourage more healthy habits. This concept is best described by retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven in his book about maintaining positive daily habits, starting out with just making your bed every morning. In a speech to graduates, he famously said, 

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”

Here’s a longer version of his speech you should definitely check out: 

Who knows, deciding to take a walk every day might just be the start of a healthier lifestyle of good habits overall for yourself. And can maybe help you change the world, too. 

Like this content and want more? Read more about health and wellness topics here. And don’t forget to subscribe to Dock Line Magazine for more content like this sent straight to your email!

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Scroll To Top