The Health Benefits of Walking

With everyone on the challenge striving for 70,000 steps per week. I thought I’d focus this week’s blog on just how beneficial walking can be.  Because walking is how we get around in general most days, we often forget just how good it is for us!  Here are five things to keep in mind next time you reach for the car keys rather than to walk to the corner shop, or when you are complaining about not getting a park closer to the shops.  Instead take those opportunities to do some extra walking, not only will you get your steps up, but your body will thank you for it too!

  1. Walking helps you burn calories, burning calories can help you maintain or lose weight. That’s what we all want, right?

Your actual calorie burn will depend on a few different things though, including:

  • Your walking speed
  • The distance covered
  • The terrain your on (you’ll burn more calories walking uphill than you’ll burn walking on a flat surface)
  • Your weight

You can determine your actual calorie burn through a calorie calculator, or by using an activity tracking device or app.

2. Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by about 19%. And your risk may reduce even more when you increase the duration or distance you walk per day.

3. Taking a short walk after eating may help lower your blood sugar.

A 15-minute walk three times a day (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner) can improve blood sugar levels more than taking a 45-minute walk at another point during the day.

Consider making a post-meal walk a regular part of your routine. It can also help you fit exercise in throughout the day in shorter intervals, rather than going for one big walk at the beginning or the end of the day.

4. Walking can help protect the joints, including your knees and hips. That’s because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints.

Walking may also provide benefits for people living with arthritis, such as reducing pain and stiffness.

5. Going for a walk when you’re tired may be a more effective energy boost than grabbing a cup of coffee (and cheaper too ????).

Walking increases oxygen flow through the body. It can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Those are the hormones that help elevate energy levels.

Walking can also help your mental health. Studies show it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.

To experience these benefits, aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking per day or you can also break it up into three 10-minute walks.

So get your walking shoes on! Grab the dog, your bestie or loved one, or go on your own for some always needed ‘Me Time’.  Put in some headphones and listen to some of your favourite music or take in the sounds of nature around you. Get those bodies moving!