Have you ever been told to “take a hike”? If so, did you ever stop to consider that maybe this was actually the best advice you could have been given? There are many health benefits of walking. Not only can it help you lose weight and get in better shape, but walking can help you improve your health markers, benefit emotionally, and even make new friends. How long do you have to walk to reap all of these benefits? How about just 30 minutes a day?
5 Health Benefits of Walking Just 30 Minutes a Day
Benefit #1: Walking Helps You Lose Weight
No matter what, walking requires your body to burn more calories than you would if you were sitting, standing, or lying down. Studies show you can burn up to 100 calories per mile just by walking.
Imagine if you walked two miles in 30 minutes, seven days a week. Two hundred calories a day, times seven days a week, comes out to about 1,400 calories burned, or almost half a pound of body fat per week! Clearly, by burning extra calories over time with consistent daily walks and a normal, healthy diet, you could experience a delightful slimming down without a lot of extra effort.
Benefit #2: Walking Improves Your Health Markers
Believe it or not, you can greatly enhance your wellness just through daily walks. According to the American Journal of Public Health, walking can greatly improve your health across the board. By adopting a daily regimen, subjects were able to see the following health benefits of walking:
- Improved blood pressure
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Reduced depression
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved heart health
- Reduced risk of cancers
- Better joint health
- Improved bone density
- Improved circulation
- Reduced arthritis symptoms
- Asthma relief
- Ramped up energy levels
Benefit #3: Walking Improves Your Social Life
You don’t have to go it alone! Round up some friends to walk with you. It can be a fun, social time everyone can benefit from. It’s a great time to catch up with each other, and you can even invite new friends to join the group.
One of the top benefits of walking is that it can help you relieve stress and even depression. A Stanford study showed that daily walks even help you feel less angry. They also help you work off negative feelings and emotions. Researchers even found positive effects on memory and cognition, just from the exercise and peaceful environment provided by daily walks.
Benefit #4: Walking Helps You Save Money
Yes, walking is still free! In this day and age when everything has a price tag, and you can’t join a fitness club or take a group class without shelling out a good $20, it’s refreshing to be able to walk anywhere, at any time, with any one you please. No charge!
Benefit #5: Walking Improves Your Sleep
It’s hard enough to get a good night’s sleep with all the electronics, daily pressures, various medications, and more. However, a daily exercise routine which includes walking can greatly improve not only your quality of sleep but can shorten the length of time it takes you to fall asleep and lengthen the time you stay asleep.
How to Get Started with a Walking Program
Just getting out and moving your body is the first step. You don’t need to worry about overdoing it either. Walking is a gentle exercise, similar to swimming, and is something you can do virtually every day. Just be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, as you may not be aware of how strong the sun is as you enjoy a leisurely walk, and dress appropriately for the weather.
Take a look at different shoes designed specifically for walking. You’ll want to make sure you have good shoes that support your feet, ankles, knees, and hips so you strengthen, and don’t injure, your body.
Also, it’s a great idea to warm up to your walk by taking it slowly for the first few minutes. Then, as you get more accustomed to exercise, you can build up to longer and faster walks. Try incorporating gentle hills or bursts of speed-walking for even greater fitness benefits.
And remember, be safe: always ensure your route is safe, and walk with a friend, if possible.