Walk This Way!
When times get tough, we as human beings tend to let good habits fall to the wayside. One of the most common things we give up is exercise, but there is no greater need for daily exercise than right now. If you’re having trouble staying active, due to being homebound or working, we have a simple yet effective workout: walking! A vastly underrated form of aerobic exercise, walking is one of the most studied forms of exercise and has a multitude of health benefits - mentally, physically, and emotionally. Here are just some of the benefits of walking daily:
It’s good for your heart
Daily walking leads to increased cardiovascular fitness: it’s a win-win! According to the American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine, adults should do moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes on five days each week or intense aerobic exercise (such as running) for at least 20 minutes three days each week.
It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
The National Walkers’ Health Study found that regular walking was linked to a 7 percent reduced risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
It boosts your mood
Walking has many benefits for mental health and gives you a natural high as it stimulates the production of neurotransmitters in the brain (such as endorphins) that help improve your mental state. In addition to improving your mood, walking can also help you get out of a creative rut. One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent.
It reduces joint pain
Walking is one of the best exercises for all ages because it creates less stress on the joints and reduces muscular pain and stiffness. Walking increases blood flow to tense areas and helps strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints. If you or someone you know suffers from arthritis, walking daily can help alleviate the pain.
Now that you’re familiar with just some of the health benefits of walking, here are a few tips to make the most out of a daily walk:
- Track your exercise - Tracking your daily walks can help you be more accountable and make it a routine. Whether you have a Fitbit or app on your phone, track your progress, and find ways to improve your overall output.
- Break it up - A goal of 15,000 steps a day can be challenging, especially if you have a full day of work. If you’re pressed for time, consider breaking up your walk into multiple, shorter walks per day. You can also mix in running or speed walking to shorten the time but still get the full health benefits.
- Create a special playlist - Need ideas for great walking songs? We like “Walk This Way,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” “These Boots Were Made for Walking.”
- Download a thought-provoking podcast. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Luminary are just some of the platforms that offer a ton of great podcasts to listen to and get inspired.
- Wear supportive, light walking shoes. The right shoes can make all the difference. Look for sneakers in a light, breathable fabric, adequate heel support, and enough room for your toes to wiggle around.
- Lastly, if you’re walking daily by yourself, take that time to reflect on your day or set an intention for the coming day. Expressing gratitude has a multitude of benefits and will boost your happiness levels.
Walking is an easy and free form of exercise anyone can do, anywhere. Getting outside for a walk will stimulate the positive neurons in the brain and get your blood flowing, giving you an all-around sense of happiness and well-being. While you may not see the benefits immediately, with dedication and discipline, walking is a great way to stay fit in both body and mind.