When it comes to physical activity, don’t undervalue the incredible health benefits of a daily walk. Research tells us that there are health benefits to exercise — even periods as short as a few minutes. It also reveals that these benefits are increased when we get moving outdoors. You don’t need a gym membership or the latest in gizmos and gadgets to improve your physical and mental fitness, you just need some comfy shoes and the determination to make it happen.
Here are just a few of the benefits of a daily walk:
- You’ll boost your spirits: There’s no need to pound away stress: a brisk daily walk will do the trick! It turns out that exercise is so beneficial for our mental health, that it’s considered as effective in treating anxiety and mild to moderate depression as many medications — and without the side effects.
- You’ll reduce your risk of diabetes: Walking can lower your blood sugar levels as well as your overall risk for diabetes.
- Improved blood pressure: Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee determined regular walking reduced blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may in fact reduce the risk of stroke by 20 percent to 40 percent.
- Longevity: Mounting evidence suggests walking can reduce your risk of mortality. A study using data from over 334,000 people in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Nutrition (EPIC) concludes that adding just a 20-minute daily walk to an otherwise sedentary lifestyle, reduces the risk of death by 7 percent.
- Weight management: While many experts suggest weight loss is more effectively accomplished by way of a healthy diet and responsible caloric intake, exercise helps torch extra calories and can rev up metabolism so that we burn even more calories even while at rest. Exercise is also an effective tool in helping us to maintain a healthy weight throughout life — and yes, walking counts!
- Stronger bones: Bone density is built in part through weight-bearing exercise like walking, and strong bones can help prevent osteoporosis and the related fractures commonly seen in older adults. Each time you lace up your running shoes or venture outdoors for a brisk walk, remind yourself of the incredible benefits of exercise.
- A healthier heart: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that people who walk at least five times a week for 30 minutes or more had a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk on a regular basis. Need we say more? Click here to learn more about reducing your risk of heart disease.
- Creativity: Numerous studies link walking with improved creativity and ideation and helping to reduce or eliminate brain fog. Don’t be surprised if on a walk you find yourself full of good ideas, creative solutions, new approaches, and the energy to put them to work.