From an evolutionary standpoint, the human body is meant to be upright. Our bodies should be active and engaged for much of the day, and we should avoid living too sedentary of a lifestyle.
Unfortunately, that’s not how many people live today.
From working at home in bed to lounging on the couch after signing off, a lifestyle full of sitting has become the norm for many people. This has led to an increase in conditions like obesity, high blood sugar, and increased blood pressure (1).
While fitness centers and diet plans might convince us that we need to spend hours a day exercising, sometimes all you need to do is go for a walk.
Let’s look at seven ways walking can improve your life.
Tone your muscles
It might not seem like it, but walking is a fantastic way to get a pair of toned legs—especially if you walk in the right places.
Try going up hills (or stairs, if you’re in a building) to really give your legs a workout. When combined with exercises like squats and lunges, you won’t even need to go to the gym.
If you’re on a quest to lose a bit of weight, don’t underestimate the value of walking. You can burn a lot of calories by just taking 30 minutes out of your day to take a walk.
Some of the factors that affect how many calories you burn include:
- Your walking pace
- The distance you walk
- Your weight
- The terrain you’re walking on
Try using your phone or a fitness watch to track how many calories you burn!
Boost your immune system
If you’re someone who always finds yourself getting sick, walking might be the solution you need.
One study found that out of 1,000 adults, those who walked for a half-hour or more each day had 43% fewer sick days during flu season. On top of that, they also had fewer respiratory infections (2).
Help you think creatively
Walking is a great way to clear your mind and get your creative juices flowing.
One study found that people had an easier time thinking of new, creative ideas when they were outside walking than at their desks sitting down (3).
If you’ve hit a creative roadblock, try going for a walk around the actual block!
Get your blood flowing
As excess sitting leads to problems like obesity and diabetes, other conditions like heart disease also become more common.
Walking is one of the best ays to get your blood flowing and reduce your chances of developing some of these conditions. By taking a 30-minute walk each day, your chances of developing heart disease decrease by 19% (4).
Reduce joint pain
Contrary to what you may think, sitting for extended periods doesn’t do much to alleviate joint pain. On the other hand, walking does.
Walking helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles around your joints. This helps reduce joint pain severity—especially in places like your knees and hips.
Help you live longer
It might sound crazy, but walking can even help you live longer.
Researchers have found a correlation between a brisk walking pace and a longer life (5).
Next time you go for a walk, try walking at a faster pace. You might just add a few years onto your life!
The simple beauty of walking
Modern society may work hard to convince us that exercise needs to happen inside a gym, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes all our bodies need is a brisk walk around the block.
Look for ways to incorporate walking into your schedule to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. Don’t forget your water bottle!