Walking is a great form of exercise for those who are looking to stay fit and healthy without placing stress on their bodies. Various studies have shown that walking for 15 to 30 minutes a day has huge health benefits. According to PHE (Public Health England), just one walk a day is enough to cut the risk of early death by as much as 15%. Walking can help to burn calories, lower the risk of obesity, type two diabetes, and certain types of cancers. It can also increase heart activity and lower blood pressure. It’s a low intensity exercise that’s easy on the joints and heart- perfect for people of all ages and fitness levels who are keen to stay active.
Outdoor exercise has also been proven to have a whole host of health benefits including lowering stress and anxiety. Reconnecting with nature and enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and green space can be invaluable to both our mental and physical health.
If you don’t have reason enough to head out for a walk already, here are a few more benefits. Walking can help to:
Keep your blood pressure in check
Walking has been proven to help lower blood pressure. In a trial in Japan, a number of individuals with mild hypertension walked 10,000 steps a day for 12 weeks. After the 12 week period, their blood pressure was significantly lower.
Reduce your risk of chronic disease
Walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Just 30 or more minutes of moderate activity five days a week is enough to make a large difference.
Reduce stress and boost your mood
Exercise (including walking) works to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) in your system, as well as help stem anxiety and negative thoughts.
In addition, exercising outdoors provides a double dose of happiness as studies show those who hike or walk in green areas tend to be happier than those who don’t. Walking outside not only exposes you to natural sunlight, but green space helps to boost your mood and reduce stress.
Improve your sleep quality
In a large analysis of sleep studies, researchers found that regular walkers had longer and better quality sleep.
Boost your brain power
Regular exercise can benefit your memory, cognition, learning and more. It can also help to protect your brain by reducing the risk of cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Build your bone density
Weight-bearing exercises like running or even walking help to strengthen bones and prevent the loss of density. Strong bones reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, fractures, injuries, spine shrinkage and more. They also help with good posture, stamina, and balance.
Help boost your metabolism and weight loss
Daily walking will increase your metabolism by burning extra calories and preventing muscle loss.
Help with your digestion
Walking can aid in healthy digestion as it utilises the core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in the GI system. Good digestion can help to avoid problems such as improper digestion can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and even colon cancer.
So, what are you waiting for? Lace up those shoes and head to the park.