Are you making a habit of out walking an hour a day or more?
Every adult living in today’s modern world has probably heard some kind of study about how weight lifting keeps your muscles strong and your brain fit, or how high intensity exercises can keep your heart healthy.
But where does walking fit into the picture?
Walking, it seems, is sometimes overlooked by people who want to lose weight or tone up.
But if you’re the type of person who’s only interested in sweating like crazy and pushing until you can’t push any harder, it might be worth looking at how you can add or trade some of that time in for some occasional walking.
1. It keeps you active when recovering from or preventing injury.
Running and other high impact forms of exercise offer lots of great health benefits, but they also increase your risk of injury.
It’s far too easy to mess up something in your knee, sprain an ankle or end up with very sore feet.
As long as your injury is not serious (and you’ve ideally consulted your physician first), walking can be a surprisingly restful way to stay active without doing more damage.
Or if you’re new to running, walking can be a great first step to warming up, strengthening your legs and preventing injury by slowly easing into a faster pace.
2. It’s great for keeping your stress hormones in check.
Walking doesn’t put anywhere near as much stress on your body as high intensity exercise does.
Over-training can lead to all sorts of nasty side effects like decreased energy, an increased resting heart rate, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, mood problems and even an increased risk of injury.
The body needs to recover, and walking is perfect for that.
According to the authors of The Metabolic Effect, leisure walking is one of the best forms of activity you can do to lower cortisol, which can easily wreak havoc on your body if levels get too high (or even too low).
3. It’s an ideal way to keep moving all day long.
Several recent studies have popped up lately telling us that no matter how hard we push in the gym, it can never undo the risks associated with being sedentary for the rest of the day.
In fact, making sure to move regularly throughout the day is key to good health.
Walking is a form of activity that’s so natural and easy, any healthy and able-bodied person can do it several times throughout the day without experiencing any real problems related to over-training or injury.
4. It’s powerful enough to help people keep their weight down more than strenuous exercise.
A particularly fascinating study found that people who engaged in regular brisk walking were more likely to have a lower weight compared to doing some other form of strenuous exercise, like trying to stick to a gym habit.
The researchers looked at both men and women who walked briskly for more than 30 minutes and discovered that their waist circumferences and BMIs were lower than those who participated in sports or other forms of vigorous exercise.
5. It can bring you all the health benefits of running, without the risks.
It’s common to assume that running provides more health benefits for the simple fact that it gets a person’s heart rate up and can challenge the muscles more than walking, but one study found that when walkers expended the same amount of energy as runners, the health benefits were about equal.
That includes a reduced risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease.
And as a bonus, brisk walking doesn’t come with nearly as much risk of injury or over-training as running does.
6. It can offer mental health benefits if you take it outside.
You can’t really compare walking on a treadmill in a busy public gym to walking through a quiet park or on a forest trail.
Walking in nature is especially effective at fighting mental stress and lowering blood pressure, calming the mind of all the crazy thoughts you have during the day.
7. It can be as relaxing or as intense as you need it to be.
Last but not least, walking is perhaps one of those simple forms of exercise that people forget can be pretty intense depending on how they approach it.
By picking up your pace or going up a steep hill, you can get your heart rate pumping and your body sweating faster than you’d probably expect, which is great for people who aren’t up to running or doing aerobic exercises.
On the other hand, it can also be as slow and inexhaustible as you want.
There’s no need to sweat or catch your breath if you just want to take a quick leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.
All It Takes Is Walking An Hour a Day
Walking as much and as often as you can is better, but making a habit out of walking an hour a day is a great start, and enough for you to reap the benefits.
You can even split your walks up if you want, perhaps with 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.
Keep these benefits in mind next time you’re feeling a little sedentary or could use a switch from your regular workout routine.
You can almost never go wrong with walking!