There is something bewildering about Today’s exercise trend of driving 20 min or more to your gym, entering a locker room, changing into a cute workout ensemble, signing up if necessary for a treadmill; all just to take a walk. While there’s definitely something to be admired when people choose a routine that has a consistent form of exercise. However, the best thing about walking is that it’s so simple. My preference is to walk outside through the neighborhood for approximately 20 min or more after dinner. Here are the 10 Reasons everyone should walk.
1. Relieves stress
If you’ve ever gone off for a walk while your exasperated, upset, angry, or full of anxiety and come back calmer and more collected, then you know firsthand how walking can help you feel better during turbulent moments in your life.
The physical benefits of exercise are well known, and experts have always preached the need to be physically active. Clinical studies show that it accentuates your ability to maintain continual alertness and concentration, which is also important in terms of problem-solving and possibly finding well thought out solutions for what is creating the stress in your life.
When stress affects the brain, there is a toll that it takes on the rest of your body. The correlation is that if your body feels better, so does your mind. The key point is that biophysically, exercise will increase the release of endorphins, these natural opiate peptides thereby create a natural euphoric feeling. With higher endorphin levels, we feel less pain, as well as, much fewer negative effects of stress.
2. Facilitates Weight Loss
Walking is one of the best exercises for losing weight and it’s relatively easy on the joints (compared to the jarring impact of running). The total number of calories you can burn by walking is typically calculated by your body weight and walking speed. If you walk at a speed of 4 miles per hour (slightly over the 3.1 mph average) you can burn approximately 400 calories per hour (Fast walking).
Keep in mind, you are walking throughout the day anyway (usually an everchanging duration), so if you use a pedometer to track your daily traversing mileage, you might find out that you just need to add a supplemental walk after dinner to aid the digestion and balance blood sugar after what is typically the largest meal of the day.
3. Heart Healthy
Heart disease kills about 1 in 4 people in the U.S., so the importance of regular walking, as well as, improved diet is that people can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 40 to 50 percent.
All aerobic exercise provides a greater degree of circulation which in turn improves your heart function. During exercise, the heart becomes more efficient and delivers more oxygen and nutrients to other organs.
Walking can lower blood pressure and LDL (bad cholesterol), decrease the risk of many cancers and improve immune system function.
4. Improves Digestion after Meals
The analysis is that post-meal walks help clear glucose from the bloodstream more effectively because the body is consuming the glucose into your muscles as the physical activity is taking place which minimizes rapid spikes that are hard on your body. This ultimately means better control of blood sugar levels and overall good digestive health.
The way your body converts food into energy is that your intestinal tract is lined with thousands of microvilli (pictured), which are microscopic protrusions that absorb nutrients. These microvilli absorb glucose molecules and send them straight into your bloodstream. Once your brain becomes aware of an influx of glucose, it sends signals to your pancreas to secrete insulin which thereby allows cells to absorb the glucose and balance out your blood sugar levels.
Walking post-meals ensures that you’re efficiently processing your food and can even help alleviate symptoms of digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. A typical post-meal walk can lower blood sugar levels approximately 120mg/dL (basically milligrams of glucose in 100 milliliters of blood [a deciliter] which is the unit of measure for glucose concentration).
- (Related Article: 5 Clues You May Have Leaky-gut)
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5. Enjoy Your Surroundings
It might seem normal these days; however, if you’ve ever got caught up in the daily grind of getting up, hopping into a car, working/taking classes, driving home, eating, watching some tv, and then going to bed; you’ll notice that a lot of people aren’t really outside just to enjoy nature. Maybe we get so caught up in being productive and multitasking that we don’t take time to look around.
If anyone feels this type of daily routine can feel like a type of groundhogs day; please raise your hand!! It’s easy to drive past a yard, park, garden, farm, lake, river, or stream; but be caught up thinking about lists and priorities that none of it really registers in the consciousness. Walking is a great way to see the neighborhood, check out giant hydrangea bush several houses down, see the ugly renovation happening around the corner, and basically take a moment for yourself among some pretty amazing neighborhood settings (your neighborhood might not be Grand Canyon-esque, but finding beauty doesn’t mean having to take a family vacation to Arizona).
6. Promotes Creativity
Because walking does not take much thought (hopefully practice has made it more or less second nature), our attention is free to wander and explore. This is typically the type of mental state that is linked to innovative ideas and insight. Walking and other types of moderate exercise stimulate neural connectivity and plasticity in the Limbic system part of the brain called the hippocampus.
All this means that while walking you can focus some of your creative energy into your hobbies and passions. While innovative ideas and insight will not necessarily make you into the next Picasso or Michaelangelo, it can provide a much-needed creative balance and support away from the “daily grind”.
7. Strengthens your Bones
Because your bones are living tissue that responds to gravity based exercise by becoming stronger (as opposed to swimming). Women and men who exercise on a regular basis generally achieve greater bone density and strength. For most people, bone mass will peak approximately during their thirties.
Typically as everyone turns the corner towards their middle ages, there is an onset of what is a relatively slow decline in everyone’s bone density and strength, people can counter the slow bone loss with regular exercise. Your skeletal system stores approximately 99 percent of the calcium in your body.
Your skeletal system reacts to exercise by increasing its stores of calcium. Osteoblasts are the cells that add layers of calcium to bones and exercise increases osteoblastic activity. Exercise such as walking creates force throughout particular bones that will over time subsequently strengthen that bone.
8. Strengthens your Immune System
Walking gets your antibodies and white blood cells moving through the body at an increased rate, this increase in circulation along with helping your heart also helps to trigger the release of hormones that can provide earlier detection of intruding pathogens.
Because walking gives your immune system a natural boost this, in turn, helps your body fight diseases of all kinds; from common colds to preventing more serious health problems. Walking helps you live longer and age more gracefully, in conjunction studies show that older women who walk for exercise report fewer menopause symptoms.
9. Family activity
Walking is another ideal way to bond as a family unit, especially if parents in general (for even a short time) can get the entire family away from their laptops, televisions, cellphones, tablets, video games, and or talking virtual assistants.
Every walk is a 2 for 1 opportunity get some exercise and spend some time together. Family time walking is just as important to schedule as the occasional family vacations; developing a routine of seeing and interacting with each can only make you more involved when there are enough distractions that can pull you apart (Related Article: 10 Reasons Everyone Should Swim).
10. Good for Sleeping
Going for a brisk daily walk will also keep you up less often at night because exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin. The only activities that studies have proven to have better overall results than walking were jogging, swimming, and bicycling.
Because approximately one-third of all adults have difficulty falling or remaining asleep which is aptly termed insomnia (Latin for sleepless). Oftentimes physical and emotional stress are a common root cause for this.
Walking helps our body and mind and also reduces anxiety which provides a natural way of winding down for the evening. However, researchers suggest that any walk is a good walk as long as it’s at least three hours prior to your designated bedtime.
Our final note is that Walking is typically one of the most underutilized exercise options because it costs nothing, provides stress relieve, facilitates weight loss, reduces the risk of heart disease, improves digestion, allows you to enjoy your surroundings, promotes creativity, strengthens bones, strengthens your immune system, helps social interaction among your family members, and is helpful for restorative sleep.
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