Walking and Its Many Health Benefits

If you have let your exercise routine slide a bit over the winter or after a vacation, extra daylight hours in the coming weeks may be the motivation you need to get back on track.  A brisk daily walk holds a surprising number of health benefits.  

According to a recent Prevention magazine report, walking can not only help adults lose weight, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk for chronic illness and improve sleep, but spending time outdoors in nature (and sunlight) can boost your mood.  Because walking only requires a good pair of walking shoes, it’s an exercise that is available to everyone. It costs nearly nothing and just 30 minutes of walking each day can make a significant difference in overall health and well-being. 

If you don’t have a walking partner, try listening to music or a podcast while you get in your daily steps.  And if you can walk at a faster pace for short intervals of one minute followed by two minutes of moderate walking, you you can improve cardiovascular health and even reduce the risk for developing diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.

Daily walking can also help prevent varicose veins by improving blood flow and reducing swelling in the lower legs and feet.   Regular walking may also improve digestion to help keep you regular and ease joint pain by strengthening muscles and improving blood flow to tight areas.  If you drop a few pounds as a result of walking daily, the risk for chronic illness stemming from being overweight is lessened.  Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can lower your heart attack risk, increase motivation and reduce inflammation, improving your immune function.  Taking excess weight off joints also lessens wear and tear on knees and reduces the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis, a painful condition that can hinder mobility. 

If all these reasons to walk each day don’t resonate with you, a brisk hike in a green space can help you clear your mind, work through problems or ease stress.  Whether you are talking through issues with a friend or partner or getting the dog out for her constitutional, walking through your neighborhood also provides opportunities for social engagement which helps seniors age more successfully as part of a connected community.  

Check out walking playlists on Spotify, Amazon Music or Apple Music to keep you motivated and moving.