BENEFITS OF WALKING
Walking is not only the simplest form of exercises that almost everyone can do. It’s also a free activity that can aid in weight loss and maintenance. So, while you’re putting together your 2018 fitness regime, (if that’s something you are doing), check out the benefits walking has (it’s pretty darn great for you):
INCREASES ATTENTION AND DECISION MAKING
Have you been feeling stuck at work or searching for a solution to a tricky problem? Research says it’s good to get moving. The small act of getting away from your desk, and outside, will give you a different perspective, adding a 20-30 minute walk around the block, will aid this even further.
ALLEVIATES DEPRESSION AND FATIGUE
You know how sometimes it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark chocolate to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, going to for a walk has the same benefits, without the alcohol or sugar content… which is great for those ‘dry’ January days. Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility. Walking outside can also expose you to natural sunlight, which is essential to keep Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at bay during the winter months.
HALVES RISK OF ALZHEIMERS
According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
LOWERS RISK OF HEART DISEASE
Walking regularly can help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which contribute to heart disease. There have been several studies that prove walking to be good for your heart health – one showing that brisk walking three hours a week can lower a woman’s risk of heart disease by 30% to 40%; another that sedentary women with high blood pressure reduced their systolic blood pressure and body mass by walking 9,700 steps per day at a self-selected pace for 24 weeks. In short, getting the blood flowing around the body by walking, keeps it pumping around the body for longer!
WORKS ARM AND SHOULDER MUSCLES
I get it you’re thinking, “Um…what now?”, but it’s true! While your arms are down by your side they are working without you realizing to help keep your balance. If you’ve been at the desk or in the car all day, the natural swing your arms do while walking, will help loosen out and tension in your shoulders too! The easiest way to work your arms further while walking, is to carry some light weights, and do certain exercises to tone your arms while walking! This is not essential though, your arms and shoulders will still tone your arms and shoulders slightly without the need to carry weights with you.
STRENGTHENS LEGS, QUADS, HIPS AND HAMSTRINGS
Aka your legs will look great! As we age, our risk of varicose veins increases, but walking is a proven way to prevent those lines from developing. If you already suffer from varicose veins, walking daily can help ease related swelling and restlessness in your legs.
KEEPS WEIGHT IN CHECK
This one may seem obvious but it’s certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly. Walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss and which is particularly important as we get older.
You don’t have to slog it out on the treadmill to see fitness benefits. Where you can, add in some extra steps throughout the day: Walk home from work? Park a little further away from your destination, so you have a to walk to finish the trip, or walk to the next nearest train stop instead of the one closest to the office if you can.
With all that info, we're reaching for our coats to get outside and walk off the holiday festivities.