10 Reasons Walking is the Best Kind of Workout
Ask any busy adult about walking these days, and they'll tell you that it's just a quick way to get from point A to point B. But research has proved that walking is crucial for our survival – meaning it keeps us alive. In fact, the more we walk, the healthier we get and the longer we live. So, if you've been looking for some #WalkingInspo, these ten reasons might convince you to squeeze a walk into your daily routine. Plus, National Walking Day (April 6th) is showing up on our calendars this month. So, there's never been a better time to start strolling through local parks or downtown sidewalks.
What is National Walking Day?
Celebrated on the first Wednesday of April (that'd be the 6th for this year), National Walking Day(1) is all about encouraging people to take up walking on a daily basis. As the easiest way to improve our health, walking is an activity that's definitely worth taking up, and the best part is that it's suitable for people of all ages and fitness skills.
10 Benefits of Walking
1. It aids with weight loss
Although walking isn't the quickest way to lose weight, it can sure help you drop a size or two. It all depends on the intensity of your walking speed, the distance you're willing to cover, and the terrain of choice. For example, you're more likely to shed pounds if you walk uphill at a brisk pace for 30 minutes instead of strolling casually through the park for 15 minutes. To put it into perspective, just think that a 180-pound person burns about 100 calories per mile(2).
2. It may regulate blood sugar
According to one study(3), walking may also help you lower your blood sugar levels. During this study, researchers found that a 15-minute walk three times a day (specifically, after breakfast, lunch, dinner) helped regulate blood sugar levels more efficiently than a 45-minute walk at any given time during the day.
Of course, further research is needed to confirm these findings. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take a walk after breakfast, lunch, or dinner if you feel like it. After all, walking is all about enjoying the activity.
3. It increases your muscle mass
One of the most straightforward benefits of walking is that it can help you build some serious muscle – especially around your legs. That's also beneficial to your joints as strong, toned leg muscles can support fragile, worn-out joints. Keep that in mind as you grow older. For more lower-body gains, you can even walk in an area with uneven terrain (i.e., hilly trails).
4. It strengthens your heart
Chances are you've heard your doctor "prescribe" walking as the best "medicine" for heart disease. And for a good reason, as walking can reduce the risk of coronary disease by 20%(4). To reap this benefit, take a casual walk for 30 minutes a day. You can reduce that risk even more by increasing the duration and distance you cover every day.
5. It keeps your joints healthy
You probably know this, but your knees and hips will only worsen with age. One way to decrease the rate at which they deteriorate is to walk. Research(5) has shown that walking increases the blood flow to the legs and keeps your joints lubricated. As a result, you experience less joint pain, stiffness, and swelling – which translates to a better quality of life.
6. It increases your lifespan
Between improving heart health and keeping blood sugar at bay, it's no wonder that walking can help increase your lifespan. In fact, according to a recent study(6), just 15 minutes of brisk walking a day can reduce your mortality rate by 22%. That means you could increase your lifespan anywhere from 2 to 7 years.
7. It improves your mood
Let's be honest: When we're stressed or gloomy, we've all headed out for a walk in hopes of clearing our heads and feeling a tad better. Now science(7) proves that pounding the pavement is actually a legit way to relieve stress and improve our mood. And that's because walking triggers the production and release of endorphins, which are also known as the "feel-good hormones." Thirty minutes of brisk walking throughout the day for 3 days a week are enough to do the trick.
8. It makes sleep time easier
Losing weight and strengthening your ticker may be the two most common reasons why people take up walking. But scientists agree that improving your sleep quality is another solid reason to lace up your walking shoes.
According to a recent study(8), individuals who are more active during the day tend to sleep better than those who are more sedentary. In fact, the more steps someone takes throughout a day, the longer and calmer he or she sleeps.
9. It boosts your creativity
Walking and creativity may not sound like they have much in common. But researchers(9) recently compared the creative output of people who come up with ideas while sitting and walking. As it turns out, people tend to be more creative when they're walking (even up to 60%!)(10). So, next time you want to get the creative juices flowing, stand up from your desk chair and pace around for it. It may sound counter-intuitive and distracting, but science proves it helps.
10. It's the easiest/cheapest form of exercise
No matter which way you see it, walking is the easiest way to squeeze some workout time during your day. All you have to do is change your mindset and the way your approach walking. For example, you could turn your commute home into a walk or walk to get your lunch or coffee instead of ordering them in. It's as simple as that! Plus, unlike running(11) or weightlifting, walking doesn't require some fancy equipment. All you need is a pair of good-quality walking shoes.
Do you think walking is a worthwhile workout? Or do you prefer running? Let us know in the comments down below!
- How Many Calories Are Burned Walking Per Mile? (verywellfit.com)
- Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Postmeal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance | Diabetes Care | American Diabetes Association (diabetesjournals.org)
- Quantifying the dose-response of walking in reducing coronary heart disease risk: meta-analysis - PubMed (nih.gov)