Following are nine major benefits and then some tips on how to get started.
1) It’s free!
You don’t need a fancy gym membership, a personal trainer or any special kit, just some appropriate and comfortable footwear and the motivation to step out of the front door.
2) Its good for your circulatory system
It decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle and helping you lose weight which in turn can help to lower cholesterol.
It’s good for you even if you have had a heart attack by helping you gently increase your fitness by making your body more efficient at utilizing the oxygen in your blood, just make sure to speak to your doctor before increasing your activity levels.
3) It strengthens your bones
As we age our bones become less dense (especially if you’re a woman who has gone through the menopause). This increases the risk of debilitating fractures, in the hip for example. Walking can make your bones denser or help maintain what density you have by putting a positive pressure on them which makes them adapt to allow them to take more stress.
One study carried out on post-menopausal women shows that just 30 minutes of walking a day reduced their risk of hip fracture by 40%.
4) It burns calories
In conjunction with eating less and eating healthier walking is a valuable tool in the battle for weight loss as it requires you to expend energy to propel yourself.
Walking for just 30 minutes can burn 120 or more calories.
5) It helps decrease pain and improve mood
Walking causes the brain to release its own natural painkillers and mood enhancers. These are called endorphins. Take a walk and feel how it subtly effects your mood.
6) Stronger joints and muscles
During walking the leg and abdomen muscles have to work very hard and become stronger over time because of this. So if you have achy knees, hips or lower back walking can help strengthen the muscles that provide vital support and stability to these areas.
Secondly, the cartilage in joints like your knees and hips don’t have their own blood supply and nourishment is provided by a lubricating substance called synovial fluid (think WD40). This fluid relies on movement and compression to spread it around the joint surface. A lack of movement, especially walking, leads to less lubrication and nourishment of the cartilage which speeds up the process of wear and tear in a joint.
7) It keeps you brain sharp
Studies have shown that it improves memory, helps increase academic performance and boosts creativity.
8) It improves balance
As we get older we become more likely to fall. This can be for many reasons; sometimes due to nervous system problems and sometimes due to serious injury, but much of the time it can be down to a lack of physical conditioning and strength caused by a lifestyle spent largely sitting on our bums. Walking can go a long way to improving this situation.
9) It helps keep blood sugar levels stable
This is very important if you have type 2 Diabetes or are at risk of this. Even a short fifteen minute walk can lower blood sugar levels.