By Hannah E. Whitcombe
Research reveals that walking for just 15-30 minutes may be all the exercise it takes to help you drop pounds, fight disease and improve your mental health! It also shows that it may even help to save your life!!
So, what are the main benefits associated with a daily stroll and is it really comparable to more vigorous forms of exercise?
It Aids Weight loss
Even though true weight loss can only be achieved through making the necessary changes to your diet, walking can certainly help support the process. Mile for mile, it actually burns a similar amount of calories as running (all without getting horribly sweaty and tight chested) and a 30-minute walk can help you burn an extra 200 calories as well as helping to reduce cravings for sugary foods, which in my opinion is a win win! But not only can it help to burn extra calories, it also serves to improve digestion and boost your metabolism, which both contribute nicely to overall weight loss. Further, the improved digestion will help reduce uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and constipation.
To receive these benefits, regularity is key! Aim for 2-3 brisk walks per week , and when that gets too easy, add a little extra! How about walking to work? Or a parking a little further from the office to get your daily step count up?
It Boosts Immunity
There are several theories to suggest why exercise may play a vital role in improving immunity, and walking is no exception!
Walking may help flush harmful bacteria from the lungs, reducing your chances of getting a cold or the flu. In addition, the brief rise in temperature may help to further eliminate harmful bacteria whilst simultaneously producing vital antibodies to deal with unwanted pathogens! Pretty clever stuff, hey?!
But, it’s not just mild illness that walking may be able to prevent, it may even help to save your life! It has been found that walking may reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, as well as significantly reducing your chances of having a stroke! One study found that patients diagnosed with breast cancer were 50% less likely to die of the disease if they followed a walking schedule of just 25 minutes per day!
It Improves Mental Health
It really is true what they say, walking really does clear the mind! So, next time you’re feeling a little out of sorts, grab your trainers, hit the pavement and take a deep breath!
Walking has been found to improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression and may even help to enhance creativity!
Walking boosts levels of serotonin (the happy hormone), which is often seen to be deficient in individuals suffering from depression. To elevate serotonin levels, a 20-30 minute walk may be all that is needed. In addition, walking can be like taking a mini break from the daily strains and stresses of day-to-day life, helping you to clear the mind and refocus!
These benefits may be doubled, or even tripled, when walking out in nature during daylight hours, due to the increased production of vitamin D in response to direct sunlight.
It Improves Posture
All forms of exercise will improve muscle tone and overall posture, and walking may help to counteract the detrimental effects associated with excess sitting.
Improved posture will help to minimse aches and pains, improve digestion, reduce bloating and alleviate symptoms associated with PMS (premenstrual tension) such as menstrual cramps, stress and cyclical fatigue.
In addition, walking is a weight bearing exercise, leading to an increase in bone mineral density, contributing to improved overall posture and a reduced risk of bone fracture.
Above all else, walking can be easily added to your daily schedule and requires very little equipment (maybe just a good pair of trainers and or a good sports bra)! What’s not to love?!
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