Walking health benefits : here’s 35 to get you started
Walking health benefits are something that I wanted to know and a while back I tried the couch to 5k program. Unfortunately, the strain of running (or jogging in my case) caused me lower back problems. I began researching the benefits of walking.
There are many walking health benefits from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, helping you lose weight, keeping you mobile and limber to strengthening your bones and muscles. Walking can also be of beneficial to improving your mood, mental health and depression.
Below are 35 walking health benefits to get you started. Most of these are also why I started walking too.
1. Keeps your waist trim
I’m not going to lie but when I started walking I was so overweight. I still am but the weight is beginning to shift. What I have noticed most is my waistline. Walking has started to give me a waist which wasn’t there when I started! I put it down to a regular walking schedule and trying my best to keep my stomach muscles pulled in when I walk. I don’t do it all the time otherwise I’d have a weird face on me when walking but I set myself goals to hold my stomach muscles in at certain points in my walk. It is beginning to work too!
2. Walking health benefits: your heart
You know the old saying “use it or lose it”? Well that is the same for your heart. You need to exercise it. The British Hearth Foundation estimates that over 1 in 7 men and nearly 1 in 10 women die from coronary heart disease in the UK. They suggest that brisk walking can work the heart by increasing your heart rate. They also say it can reduce your risk of heart disease too. I have noticed that my resting heart rate is lower now than when I started walking. So it seems to be working.
3. Walking health benefits: it can reduce muscle & arthritis pain
Before I started walking I felt so stiff and when I got up from a chair or the sofa I could hardly walk at all, the muscle pain was something else! Well since walking more it has gone completely. You don’t have to take my word for it though, it has been proven that walking up to 60 minutes a day does reduce inflammation and stiffness in your joints. Thank goodness it worked for me.
4. Walking health benefits: it can help manage Type 2 Diabetes
If you are in the UK you may have seen a TV program hosted by Dr Xand van Tulleken called The Truth About Carbs. In it they explored how carbs work but also looked at some patients who were being recommended a low carb diet and walking to manage their Type 2 Diabetes. The program showed the diabetes was significantly reduced while some patients no longer needed their medication! It was a real eye-opener.
5. Walking health benefits – managing your high blood pressure
Another health benefit of walking is that it lowers your blood pressure. There have been many studies to show that a brisk walk will indeed keep your high blood pressure in check, I can’t comment on this one as I didn’t have high blood pressure when I started but the medical studies seem to show it does so give walking a go to see the results for yourself.
6. Walking health benefits include strengthing your bones
Ok I’m in my 40’s and I’ve read that women are very prone to osteoporosis as we get older. This has certainly been a concern of mine. So I was pleased to read that walking will help your bones to get stronger. It’s because the cells in your bones which are called Osteoblasts like to work so walking causes them to respond well to you using your legs. I also want to add in doing some weights to continue to strengthen my bones but I haven’t managed to fit that in to my routine yet. I will keep you posted on progress though!
7. Walking is an exercise which is low-impact
Like I mentioned above, I did try the coach to 5k program but as I was carrying so much weight my back really hurt. I just felt that running wasn’t the best for my joints either. Walking is a low impact form of exercise that doesn’t put as much strain on your back or your joints. I’m slowly building up the pace of my walking but I still don’t get the jarring impact on my joints if I were running.
8. Walking can help you reduce weight
Walking means you are using your muscles and exercising. This means that walking can help you reduce / lose weight. I’ve noticed that not only is walking helping trim my waist but my weight is slowly but surely going down. I’m hoping this will continue until I am no longer overweight.
9. Walking health benefits it helps reduce your body fat
As well as reducing weight, walking can help reduce body fat too. I have been tracking my body fat and it has been going down. Body fat is something you need to consider when you are trying to lose weight Reduce body fat and you will increase muscles.
10. Walking health benefits means it helps boost your immune system
No matter what exercise you do, studies have shown that doing it on a regular basis will help boost your immune system. It can lead to fewer colds which is certainly a good thing. Walking can help with this too by strengthening your immune system.
11. Walking will make your legs stronger
Walking on a regular basis will tone your legs but more importantly it will make them stronger. Walking has proved to increase your muscle tone. Apparently it also can tighten up your skin, I haven’t noticed this yet but I will report back if it proves to be true.
12. Walking can firm up your glutes
On my regular walk home from work there are some hills. These certainly work my glutes. Walking up any kind of incline will help firm your glutes. So if you are worried about flabby glutes add in more uphills to your daily walking and see how you get on.
13. Walking makes your lungs stronger
Walking at a quicker pace increases your rate of breathing. This works out the lungs. After all your lungs are yet another muscle that needs to be exercised. There are by-products from your muscles that stimulate the respiratory nerves. These by-products are hydrogen, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. What happens when you increase your breathing is that the process opens up blood flow to allow more oxygen in the lungs. This just means the more oxygen you get in your lungs the more your whole body gets.
14. Walking improves muscle tone
Walking on a regular basis improves your muscle tone. I’m sure you will notice that when you walk any fat you have on your legs wobbles. Fat has no form which is why it does this. Walking will help get rid of fat and firm up your muscles. Over time walking will help tone your legs.
15. Walking can help with asthma conditions
There are times when my son does too much exercise and it has an negative impact upon his asthma condition. However, if you does a moderate level of exercise it is of benefit to him. Walking can be that moderate exercise that can help improve asthma. Of course check with your doctor first to ensure the level of walking you intend to do will be of benefit to you. Another tip is to breath through your nose when you are out walking. The reason for this is breathing through your nose filters the air before it gets to your lungs.
16. Walking reduces your risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Studies seem to suggest that if you are inactive for a long period over time that it causes brain fog and lead to problems with your brain function. Walking can help reduce the chances as it increases oxygen to your brain and body. No matter what age or how long it’s been since you went for a long walk, by starting today you can still improve your brain and reduce the chances of getting either dementia or Alzheimer’s.
17. Walking can reduce obesity
At the beginning of my walking journey I was obese. I think I am now in the overweight category. It is estimated that in the United States there are 32.2% of men and 35.5% of women are obese. The UK is pretty similar with 24% of men being obese and 26% of women. Walking has helped me move from the obese category. Now I need to move out of the overweight category now but I’ve no doubt that walking will do it. Of course I have also reduced my calorie intake but even if you eat the same amount you can still move the needle of your weight as you are using up more calories from walking.
18. Walking increases your overall energy levels
This really is a strange one. Before I started walking I have very little energy. It was almost as if I was tired from being tired. A study by Australian and Swedish researchers in 2016 in the British Medical Journal, showed that walking may fight tiredness. They studied 19 overweight adults who had office jobs. For the first part of the study, the participants spent seven hours sitting, rising only if they needed to go to the toilet. For the second part, the participants went for a three-minute, light-intensity walk every 30 minutes. The study concluded that those who got up and walked felt less tired at the end of the day whereas those who didn’t felt a lack of energy levels. This could be because walking will increase your blood flow to your muscles and brain making them feel better than if you just sit for long periods of time.
19. Walking exercises the muscles in your feet and ankles
When I first started walking the muscles in my feet and ankles hurt. It was because I had never considered exercising them before. I used to get cramp in them even when pointing my toes. It’s important to exercise your feet and ankles to maintain strong bones. Did you know that we have 26 bones in our feet? I really do want to stay mobile for years to come so walking is an easy way to keep my feet muscles in tip top condition.
20. Walking can keep your heart burn at bay
There have been five studies completed to show that moderate walking that you can stick to soothe away the pain of acid reflux. Other forms of exercise can increase heart burn but I’m pleased to say walking isn’t one of them. The best time to have a walk if you suffer from acid reflux is to have a walk after dinner.
21. Walking can help with restless leg syndrome
Do you suffer from restless leg syndrome? The symptoms of this can be anything from a tingling sensation to throbbing. Going for a brisk/fast walk will help with this neurological disorder. Again I would suggest you speak to your doctor before starting any walking program if have been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome.
22. Walking keeps your circulation in check
Blood flow and circulation increases when you walk. As I get older I do have a concern about Varicose veins so I want to make sure blood circulation is good in my legs. Walking is my way of trying to prevent them. Walking is also good at ensuring there is no build up of plaque in the arteries too. So it’s a win win as far as I’m concerned.
23. Walking helps reduce PMS pains
I have noticed that if I get cramps and go for a walk it certainly helps me. It is has proven that low impact exercises can reduce PMS symptoms. I highly recommending going for a brisk walk if you suffer from PMS symptoms and see if it helps. This happens because endorphins are increased when you go for a walk and it puts you in a much better mood.
24. Walking boosts your metabolism
Walking will increase your metabolic rate and keep it working after you stop walking. This means you can burn more calories faster and for a longer period of time when you come back from your walk. This also works if you go out for a walk in the evening, you could still be burning calories when you head off to bed.
25. Walking helps reduce stress
Mental health is a concern for us all. Life is just so fast these days and we have a lot to deal with. Research has proven that taking a walk for 20 to 30 minutes each day can indeed reduce stress. Indeed it has been proven to have similar effects as a mild tranquiliser too! I know that when I walk after work it puts me in a better mood as I leave the stress and strain of work behind.
26. Walking health benefits when you get older
One of the concerns I had about growing older was my health. From my bones to ensuring I am still mobile. Walking has been my way to ensure I remain nimble and can continue to move as I get older. Older people can find themselves falling so movement is essential to maintain balance and stability.
27. Walking gives you time to recharge and think things through
Walking outside is so great for your mood. You can have some free time to yourself, give yourself time to think and daydream. Just turn your phone off and leave it until you get back We are all busy so having time to think about things you want to do, what tasks you have planned, what problems you want to solve. Walking gives you the space to do all that ad more.
28. Walking health benefits allows you to be mindful
Walking is a great way to meditate. Indeed you could practice mindfulness which has been practiced for thousands of years. Walking a usual route which you have established can be used as a way of being present in the moment. Observe what is happening around you. Listen to the sounds. How do you feel? All these things are great for mindful walking and allow you to meditate.
29. Walking helps your creativity
Does your creatively juices slow down or stop? Well, walking helps your creatively flow. It does this by wakening up your brain. Walking can open up your creativity flow, you can come up with new ideas and new thinking. The walking stimulates the connectivity in the hippocampus in your brain.
30. Walking health benefits includes making you look younger
I’ve already talked about how walking tones and firms your muscles. As it increases your blood flow this means that it stimulates your skin cells adding more colour to your face and making you look younger. Another benefit of walking is that you are in the fresh air which is also good for your skin.
31. Walking health benefits means you go to the loo more
You may not see this is as a benefit but it is – honestly! Regular walking speeds up your digestion and ensures your bowels are regularly. Those who have a sedentary lifestyle have a slow metabolism which can cause constipation so walking ensures you don’t have any toilet issues!
32. Walking health benefits means you get your daily dose of Vitamin D
Our bodies need Vitamin D which we get from the sun. Walking gets you outside to get a dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D enhances mood, so the walking increases it and so does the sun so it really is a great exercise to do.
33. Walking health benefits means you could reduce your risk of cancer
Research has been carried out to show that physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of cancer. Indeed another piece of research suggests that active people have a 24% lower chance of getting colon cancer than others. They also say active women are less likely to get breast cancer. As I have already mentioned walking increases the amount of oxygen flowing through your body which cancer doesn’t like so doesn’t grow.
34. Walking health benefits means it helps solve sleeping problems
Walking helps with sleeping by helping with a smoother transition from one sleep phase to another. We have several stages of sleep from light, REM to deep sleep. Walking can help you stay in deep sleep getting there quicker and staying there for longer.
35. Walking can improve your social life
While you can walk on your own and get the benefits of time to yourself, you can also join a walking club or walk with family and friends. It’s a great way of catching up on the day if it’s with your family. We can all walk, so getting out can not only improve your mental health but it can reduce social isolation if you do decide to join a walking club.
These are 35 ways that walking can be of benefit if you decide to take it up. I really do hope you consider taking up walking as it has so many benefits. If you do, I’d love to know how you are getting on. Just leave your comment below.