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The Health Benefits of Walking

Walking is a simple yet excellent activity for better or optimal health. It’s a low-impact exercise so you won’t have to worry about injuries. Moreover, taking walks is perfect if you’re overweight, elderly, or inactive. You can walk for weight loss or health anytime, and you can stroll slow or fast.

If you’re keen on staying healthy through walking, here are several benefits you can get from this simple physical activity.

Burn Calories

Walking can help you burn calories. In turn, you could keep yourself at a healthy weight or shed some pounds. The following factors will determine how many calories you’ve burned while walking for weight loss:

  • Your walking speed
  • Your walking distance
  • The terrain you’re walking on
  • Your weight

Taking a quick 30-minute walk every day can help you burn around 150 calories. You can also burn more calories when you take more walks and increase your walking speed.

Keep Your Heart Healthy

A simple walk can also lead to a healthy heart because it puts you at lower risk for heart disease. You can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by around 19% percent with 30-minute walks per day. And walking for longer and at farther distances could put you at a much lower risk for coronary heart disease.

Walking could help you avoid a stroke, too. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that women can reduce their risk of a stroke by 20% through 30-minute daily walks. The same research also reports that faster walking could help females lower their risk of a stroke by 40%.

Walking helps your heart rate go up and strengthens your heart, as well.

Improve Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure could put you at risk for heart disease, but walking can help keep the threat at bay. If you’re past menopause, your blood pressure can decrease by about 11 points with a one to two-mile daily walk.

For lower blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends three to four 40-minute walks every week. You could also go on short, brisk walks to lower your blood pressure. Set 10 minutes aside for these walks and do them three to four times a day.

Improve Your Cholesterol Levels

Better cholesterol levels are another possible benefit of walking everyday. Good cholesterol is linked to a healthier heart and bad cholesterol is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. By doing aerobic exercises like walking, your body can get better good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.

In a 2013 study, researchers found that walking led to 4% lower bad cholesterol levels. Another study suggested that walking or other exercises could improve good cholesterol’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

Lower Your Blood Sugar

If you’re after lower blood sugar levels, walking after eating could be helpful. In fact, 15-minute, post-meal walks can lead to better blood sugar levels, according to a study published in Diabetes Journals. However, this finding has yet to be confirmed through further research.

Including post-meal walks in your daily routine can be a good idea. Apart from helping your blood sugar go down, walking after meals is a good type of exercise.

Improve Your Joint & Bone Health

Walking helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles around your joints, protecting them from damage. Stronger muscles from walking could lead to a better range of motion, as well.

Your joints could also get the support they need from a walk. When we move, the joint fluid circulates and goes to the joint cartilage. The cartilage gets oxygen and nutrients as it compresses during walking.

A walk could even help reduce pain caused by arthritis or prevent the condition. Try going on a five to six-mile walk every week to lower your risk for arthritis.

Your bones could benefit from walking, as well. Your body works against gravity as you walk, resulting in good bone resistance. In fact, walking could prevent bone loss if you have osteoporosis.

Avoid Colds or Flu

Make yourself less susceptible to colds or flu by taking frequent walks. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that adults who take moderately paced walks took 43% fewer sick days. Moreover, the participants had fewer upper respiratory tract infections and symptoms from sickness.

Boost Your Energy & Mood

Our bodies contain the energy-boosting trio of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Taking a walk could give your body more of these hormones, making you feel energetic.

Walking can work wonders for your mood, too. You could experience less anxiety, depression, and negativity as a result of frequent walks. Moreover, walking can help reduce the frequency of angry outbursts since it improves the nervous system’s function. In fact, walking could help improve overall mood by boosting self-esteem and making people less prone to social withdrawal.

Help You Live Longer

If you’re after a longer lifespan, brisk walks could help you reach that goal. You could be 20% less likely to pass on if you go for frequent moderate walks, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Moreover, brisk walks can help lower the risk of death by 24%.

Another study shows that the elderly could reduce their risk of passing on by 35% with frequent exercise. Meanwhile, walking can help people with underlying health conditions  45% less likely to be at risk of death.

Tone & Strengthen Muscles

You can get toned legs, ab muscles, and arm muscles from a walk. In turn, you can achieve more range of motion. The pressure and weight from your joints go to your muscles, leading to increased movement.

If you’re after stronger muscles, you can give these exercises a try:

  • Walking in hilly areas
  • Walking on treadmills with inclines
  • Walking on routes with stairs
  • Alternating between walking and cross-training activities
  • Squatting, lunging, curling the legs, or other resistance exercises

Help You Breathe Better

Taking more breaths during a walk has positive effects on the body. After all, oxygen flows through your bloodstream quicker when your breathing rate goes up. The stream of oxygen helps your body eliminate waste, recover better, and get more energy.

Ward Off Weight-Promoting Genes

A Harvard study looked into the effects of obesity-promoting genes on body weight. The research covered 32 weight-promoting genes in over 12,000 respondents. Participants who took one-hour brisk walks daily only felt half the effects from obesity-promoting genes. That said, walking could prevent these genes from affecting your body.

Make You Less Sedentary

Frequent walks for 30 minutes or more are often the focus of most walking-related studies. However, you could get several benefits from periodic walks. For example, short walks while you work could improve your glucose’s post-meal response.

A 2014 study saw how these walks led to better metabolic health. The research had 10 participants perform the following trials:

  • Sitting for a long period of time
  • Sitting then standing for 20 minutes
  • Sitting then walking around for 20 minutes

The researchers concluded that short walks after sitting could improve the body’s glucose and lipid response. That change could result in better cardiometabolic health.

Help You Sleep Better

Consistent workouts help you rest better, which stimulates your body’s sleep hormone. In 2019, researchers saw that postmenopausal women performing light to moderate physical activity got better sleep.

It’s also worth noting that pain and stress could stop you from enjoying a good night’s sleep, however. Going for a walk can help reduce both pain and stress.

Start Walking the Right Way

Good posture and purposeful movement are all you need to walk for fitness. The ideal walking posture and movement involve:

  • Keeping your head up and looking forward
  • Having a relaxed neck, shoulders, and back
  • Swaying your arms freely with slightly bent elbows
  • Constricting your stomach muscles a little
  • Straightening your back
  • Walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe

Don’t forget to follow these tips if you’re walking for fitness:

  • Get shoes with proper arch support, sturdy heels, and thick, flexible soles.
  • Wear comfy clothing and get the right gear for bright or tough weather.
  • Take the right route.
  • Warm up with a five to 10-minute slow walk.
  • Take another five to 10-minute slow walk after your routine. It’ll help your muscles cool down.
  • Give your muscles a gentle stretch after you cool down or warm up.

Move & Feel Better with Chiropractic Care

Taking walks can help you maintain strong, healthy soft tissues. But if you feel symptoms like pain after walking, it’s best to seek chiropractic care. Your chiropractor will help you identify the root cause of your pain and resolve it with the right treatment.

LifeClinic offers chiropractic care, physical therapy, and rehabilitation services for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. By seeking our care, your body can heal naturally and work at its best. Start your journey to recovery at any of our locations today.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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