10 Amazing Benefits of Walking

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10 Amazing Benefits of Walking

Walking is not only the simplest form of exercise that almost everyone can do, it’s also a free activity that can aid in weight loss and maintenance. But walking’s benefits go even further — here are 10 more reasons to start, or keep, walking:

1. IT SHARPENS YOUR BRAIN

Walking for exercise may become increasingly important as we age and our risk for dementia and other brain disorders increases. It can even help reverse the effects of aging. One study published in the Annals of Neurology found that the 69 participants ages 55–88 who who met the exercise guidelines set by the American Heart Association showed a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

To improve your cognition even more, try walking backward. One Dutch study found that walking backward helped subjects literally think faster on their feet. Incorporating specific mind-enhancing moves into your workout — such as moving in certain patterns with coordinated arm movements — can also boost the brain benefits of walking.

2. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR BONES

Walking can help strengthen bones and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. One Nurses’ Health study found that women who walked for a minimum of 4 hours a week saw a 40% reduced risk of hip fractures. While other forms of vigorous exercise such as running, jumping and weightlifting offer bone-strengthening benefits, the good news is that walking appears to do the same. That’s great news for those just starting a workout routine, people who must complete low-impact exercise due to joint issues and, of course, anyone who loves walking.

3. IT BOOSTS YOUR MOOD

Having a rough day? Walk it off. Numerous studies have linked walking for exercise with improved mood and reduced stress levels. And it’s even better if you can take a stroll through nature — walking outdoors near greenery has been shown to help reduce feelings of frustration and may even help put your brain into a state of meditation.

4. IT ENHANCES YOUR CIRCULATION

Regular physical activity like walking is great for your heart. It enhances your circulation, helping to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke. And it doesn’t take much to reap the benefits: Walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day is enough to improve heart health.

5. IT REDUCES YOUR RISK OF TRIPPING AND FALLING

Stepping out on a regular basis could help prevent the trips and falls that can occur as we age. Balance loss and weak muscles in the shins can cause a shuffling gait that can put you at a higher risk of tripping or falling. Regular walks can help improve balance by strengthening the lower body. Walking with an exaggerated heel-to-toe action can help strengthen these muscles even more by emphasizing the movement of the foot toward the shins (also known as dorsiflexion).

6. IT BOLSTERS YOUR MEMORY

Having a hard time remembering where your keys are? Walking regularly appears to help specifically bolster the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. A study of women ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more.


READ MORE > WAYS TO AMP UP YOUR WALKING TO LOSE WEIGHT, TONE, DE-STRESS AND MORE


7. LESSEN THE PAIN OF CONDITIONS LIKE ARTHRITIS AND FIBROMYALGIA

Walking most days of the week may help lessen pain and reduce symptoms for those with conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. The moderate, low-impact nature of walking is enough to lower pain and improve function for most. (Just be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)

8. IT IMPROVES YOUR BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS

Walking can help improve your blood glucose levels at any time of the day or night but perhaps even more so right after a meal. One study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that a brief 15-minute walk after a meal was as effective at lowering blood sugar levels in 24 hours as a longer 45-minute walk.

9. IT RAISES YOUR IMMUNITY

Stay healthy with daily steps. A walk every day may even help your body fend off illness better. Regular exercise can also contribute to maintaining a healthy weight, which helps reduce your risk of diseases such as cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

10. IT IMPROVES YOUR SLEEP

Walking may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly, especially if you suffer from insomnia. A morning walk outdoors may be particularly beneficial since exposure to daylight can help you stay in tune with your natural circadian rhythms.

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  • Amazing write-up! Being a fitness coach I just loved your post. Walking keeps you fit and helps you take off extra weight. It’s cheap, simple and almost anybody can do it. Walking has a multitude of health benefits for everyone.

  • chargerman165

    I am a 64 year old man and have been walking mostly in a treadmill for many years now. When my old treadmill gave out a few weeks ago because I wore it out I had to go purchase a new one the same day. I hate to run but love to walk and walk at least 5 to 6 days a week for an hour a day. Loved your article and yes it helps my weight control and blood sugar levels along with giving me energy and piece of mind. Thanks

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  • Jeremiah Haremza

    Hello,

    Is there a citation for

    7. LESSEN THE PAIN OF CONDITIONS LIKE ARTHRITIS AND FIBROMYALGIA

    Thanks.

    • Lea

      Do you really need a citation for that? It’s a very well known fact that light exercise lessens arthritis and fibro pain.

      • Jeremiah Haremza

        Yes. I would like to see some analytical data.

        I know vitamins are good for you. But which ones? How much? Are they better than a plecebo?

        Thanks for the cranky response. It really helped.

    • J Redwolf

      I have a severe case of fibromyalgia and participated in a research study at the University of Michigan. After the study I was invited to a workshop. The results of the study was that acupuncture was slightly more effective than acupressure and that mild aerobic exercise such as walking, and swimming was 3X more effective for pain reduction than any medication but needs to be started slowly and gently. It also produces serotonin which is often depleted in fibromyalgia patients.
      I have a severe case of fibromyalgia and participated in a research study at the University of Michigan. After the study I was invited to a workshop. The results of the study was that acupuncture was slightly more effective than acupressure and that mild aerobic exercise such as walking, and swimming was 3X more effective for pain reduction than any medication but needs to be started slowly and gently. It also produces serotonin which is often depleted in fibromyalgia patients.
      It’s not a citation, but I hope it helps.

      • Jeremiah Haremza

        Thanks.

  • Crazy Welsh

    Really enjoyable read.

  • Lea

    Walking on variable terrain is a good way to amp up walking benefits. If you can build up to barefoot/minimal shoe walking, even better! Walking barefoot and/or over uneven terrain uses far more of the foot, which means you’ll use far more of the rest of your body. A walk on the beach in sand, for instance, or a hike in the woods. Gravel at a park.

  • Deb168

    I was a recreational triathete when I was younger but at 54yo I am no longer interested in high impact hard-out exercise. Various issues led to me gaining 5 – 6kg and I was unhappy, unfit and unhealthy. I have lost that weight over a 3 month period through a combination of daily walks and calorie counting. I’m feeling so much better. I’m committed to being as fit and healthy as possible for as long as possible.

  • Jim100

    My wife suffers with quite serious Fibromyalgia and a job move meant she hardly walked for a couple of years and her mobility and pain became serious enough for her to need a walking stick even though she is only in her 30s. This year circumstances meant that she had to start walking regularly again and after 3 months of walking 2 miles a day she has managed to ditch the walking stick and her FM pain has reduced. Now trying to introduce macros into the diet as well.

  • Bart

    Never used a diet. But I had to lose something. Started to walk to and from my work. 2×40 minutes, each day. Changed my breakfast to ‘cruesli’ … but didn’t skip meals or anything. Result: 1 kg weightless per week, 8 in total now. No running, no dieting… just losing weight. Should have started walking way earlier.

  • Sam Mukhtar

    Hi. I am 59. My nephew introduced me to MyFitnessPal a year ago now. At the time it was a little hard to believe how an app can help make you do more regular exercise as well as watch out for the unnecessary calorie consumption every day. I am pleased to say, one year on since, I regularly walk 6 kms 5 days a week as well eating smarter (wine excluded). My weight has dropped 11 kg since and now feeling better than ever! Whats more, I introduced my wife to the same routine and she has lost 10 kg too.