9 Amazing Benefits of Walking
“I want to start working out but I hate running.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this from friends, former clients and family. It seems that running is the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people who are looking to lose weight. While our success stories prove that running is a great tool to get in shape, it’s not the only option.
Walking is a great activity for physical and mental fitness. And while you might think it’s not beneficial enough to see lasting change – think again!
Here are 9 benefits of walking that will motivate you to head out for a stroll:
1. It helps you to unwind
How many people do you know who plop down on the couch with a bag of chips or a glass of wine after work to unwind? Perhaps that person is you. Use walking as an active method to relax. You can release any stressful thoughts, negative feelings and forget about frustrating moments.
2. Keeps you looking and feeling young
Researchers have really been looking into how exercise can help improve the quality and length of our life. Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, pointed out that “Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”
3. It keeps stress hormone levels low
Walking, unlike running and lifting weights, keeps your cortisol (stress hormone) levels low. A stressful job and life combined with strenuous workouts could be the reason why the scale isn’t budging. Now, that doesn’t mean you should quit your strength training plan or running routine, but try to include more stress-reducing activities like walking in your life and your body will thank you.
4. It makes you happier
A study from my alma mater, California State University, Long Beach, reported that more steps throughout the day lead to a better mood overall. Why? Walking releases endorphins (as do other forms of exercise) leaving you with a great emotional benefit.
5. Requires minimal activation energy
Just get up and walk! You don’t really even need to change your clothes or shoes (unless you’re wearing heels, of course). Note: If you’re looking to go for a power walk, then changing clothes and putting on proper shoes is probably a good idea. Go for a walk periodically throughout your day or head out for a walking meeting at work instead of sitting in a meeting room. And, for those of you who don’t have time to make it to the gym in the morning, you can just head out the door first thing in the morning and walk it out.
6. Can help your weight-loss efforts
You can burn approximately 200-400 calories per hour depending on your current weight and fitness level and it all adds up!
7. Improves sleep for postmenopausal women
Postmenopausal women oftentimes report having problems with their sleep. A study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that those women who went for a brisk walk (or other moderate activity like stretching) for at least 30 minutes in the morning reported falling asleep easier.
8. It’s a great way to multitask
You can call a family member you haven’t talked to in a while, listen to your favorite podcast and even soak up some vitamin D while going for a walk!
9. Is even better when it’s on an incline
Want to take your walking game up a notch? Start walking uphill, doing inclines on the treadmill or climbing up stairs. Get the amazing benefits of walking plus some more core activation and butt and thigh strengthening.
Are you a walker who has seen or felt some great benefits? Share them with us in the comments below.