When was the last time you went out for a walk? Can't remember? Well, after reading this article you are surely going to make walking a part of your daily routine.
Taking a good walk for a few minutes a day has several health benefits ranging from de-stressing and weight loss to lowering blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of various diseases.
Walking daily will improve your overall health by working on all the muscles of the body and burning calories. To measure how much you are walking daily, use a pedometer or physical activity tracker that will show you how many steps you are walking.
In this article, we will be writing about the benefits of walking daily.
1. Aids In Weight Loss
Can walking reduce belly fat? Well, the answer is yes. Walking is a low-intensity exercise which can actually help in losing weight and reducing belly fat. A study shows that people who are physically active burn more calories  . Another study found that overweight women who walked for 50-70 minutes thrice a week for 12 weeks reduced their waist circumference by 1.1 inches and lost 1.5 per cent of their body fat  .
2. Improves Heart Health
Walking daily for 30 minutes a day will increase your heart rate. The higher the heart rate, the better the blood circulation in the body. Brisk walking is also known to lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Walking also plays an integral role in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, according to a study  .
3. Reduces The Risk Of Chronic Diseases
Walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall diabetes risk, according to the American Diabetes Association. A study revealed that physical activity such as walking could slash the risk of various chronic diseases including diabetes mellitus, colon cancer, breast cancer, obesity, hypertension, bone and joint diseases and depression  .
4. Prevents Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society researchers, low level walking can reduce the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Women who walk daily could reduce their risk of breast cancer to almost 54 per cent  . Also, another study found that walking could reduce the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women  .
5. Delays Ageing
As you age, you might experience pain and stiffness in the joints after waking up in the morning. Walking is one of the best ways to combat this as it will keep your body muscles functioning, strengthen your bones and keep you younger  . This, in turn, will increase your lifespan.
6. Reduces The Risk Of Stroke In Women
According to the American Heart Association, stroke is a disease that targets the arteries within the brain, which could cause death and disability. Physical activity, including regular walking, plays a key role in stroke prevention in women says a study  . The result of the study concluded that women who walked two or more hours a week or who walked at a brisk pace like 3 miles per hour had a much lower risk of stroke compared to women who didn't walk.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure or have been diagnosed with hypertension, going for walking regularly can help lower it. According to the American Heart Association, aim for 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise thrice a week to lower your blood pressure. If you can't make time for a long session of exercise, accumulating three 10-minute walking sessions reduces systolic blood pressure in prehypertension, says a study   .
8. Decreases The Risk Of Diabetes
Walking is a great way to curb diabetes and one should start by walking slowly and then walking at a moderate speed, according to the American Diabetes Association. Walking lowers blood glucose levels and this further improves insulin levels in the body. While walking, your muscles are in action and use more glucose (sugar) in your blood and this lowers the blood sugar levels over time. The American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine have recommended 30-minute walks for at least five days a week.
9. Increases Lung Capacity
Brisk walking for 30 minutes increases lung capacity, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Walking outdoors will also improve the health of your lungs as you will be breathing in fresh air. In addition to that, regular physical activity and exercise improve the overall quality of life  .
10. Helps To Curb Sugar Cravings
Overweight or obese people who walk for 15 minutes a day are known to have reduced sugar cravings. Research has shown that acute exercise reduces the urge for chocolates in normal weight people too  . Walking may provide some cognitive stimulation that interferes with the thought process that comes in when you are craving sugary foods. It also improves your body's ability to follow healthy food choices.
11. Improves Your Mood And Lowers Depression
Research shows that walking daily kick-starts your nervous system to such an extent that you will see a decrease in anger, stress and hostility. This, in turn, boosts your mood by lowering stress and depression   . Furthermore, walking can also spark your inner creativity as your brain and mood are boosted up, reveals a study  .
12. Prevents You From Being Disabled In the Old Age
A study confirms that walking from an early age can prevent you from being disabled in the old age  . The result of the study was that older adults between 70 to 89 years who exercised regularly were 28 per cent less likely to become disabled and 18 per cent are less likely to have any kind of physical disability.
13. Improves Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins which commonly appear in the legs and feet and often comes in blue and dark purple colour. Brisk walking regularly contracts the muscles that aid your veins to circulate blood, thereby strengthening and preserving leg muscles which boost healthy blood flow in the legs.
If you already are suffering from varicose veins, walking daily can help ease swelling and restlessness in the legs.
14. Boosts Immune Function
Walking regularly can protect you during the cold and flu season. Going for a moderately paced walk between 30 and 45 minutes daily increases the number of immune system cells in the body, according to a study  . The study was done on 1,002 adults aged from 18 to 85 years old.
15. Speeds Up Digestion
To speed up your digestion process, you can take a quick stroll for 10 minutes after lunch or dinner. Because when your body moves while walking, it increases the rate at which food is moved through the stomach, thereby speeding up digestion. A 10-minute walk is enough to speed up the digestion process and lose weight.
16. Reduces The Risk Of Dementia
According to a new study, walking may boost brain function and thinking skills in people suffering from dementia  . The findings of the study suggest that walking a few times per week will reduce the risk of age-related memory loss disease called dementia and improve cognitive function.
Some Useful Tips On Walking
- If you are a beginner, brisk walking for 30 minutes a day will improve your overall health as per health experts.
- Walking slowly is a warm-up exercise that will give your muscles time to warm up and pick up speed gradually while you moderate your walk.
- Wear a pedometer while walking as it will help you measure the number of steps you take. The recommended number of steps is 10,000 steps or more.
- Choose the right walking shoes which are comfortable and have appropriate heel and arch supports. Don't go for walking shoes that cause blisters, foot pain and injuries to soft tissues.
- Make a habit of taking a brisk walk after lunch or after dinner.
- Walk to work or visit the store if it's close by.
- You can make your walk interesting by walking with your friends, or with your dog. You can even choose new and challenging routes to make your walks interesting.
- Drink plenty of fluids before and after or within your long walks.
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing and apply sunscreen when stepping out in the sun.
- If you are over 40 years of age, check with your doctor before starting to walk.
- Choose your walking exercise that suits your age and fitness level.
- Look out for hazards on the road.
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-  Hong, H. R., Jeong, J. O., Kong, J. Y., Lee, S. H., Yang, S. H., Ha, C. D., & Kang, H. S. (2014). Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women. Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, 18(3), 277-285.
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