Walking can help you lose weight and clear your mind — learn more about its common benefits
Do you always feel better after a walk, even if it’s a short one around the block? For many people, walking outdoors beats heading to a gym for a workout indoors. It’s energizing to breathe in fresh air while walking in nature. You might think you have to go to a gym or run marathons to be healthy. But you’ll be happy to hear you can walk your way to fitness without the gym membership.
Physical benefits of walking
If you’re hoping to trim your waistline and keep a healthy weight, walking can be an ideal exercise. Countless studies have proven the physical benefits of walking. Many people begin walking for weight loss and to improve overall fitness. In fact, the faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the more weight you’ll likely lose.
A regular routine of walking can do much more for your health, including preventing heart disease, lowering high blood pressure and reversing Type 2 diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your body naturally feels better when you walk for exercise. That’s because it helps your blood circulate and reduces joint pain. Walking is ideal for you if you have knee, ankle or back problems but you still want to exercise.
Mental benefits of walking
Walking can do wonders for your body, and it can do just as much for your brain. You’ll feel happier because you’re moving your body. When you walk, you’re increasing the amount of blood flow to your brain, which naturally improves your feeling of well-being. In addition, walking helps your brain’s nerve cells grow and work better. Taking one walk can improve your mood. Walking on a regular basis also:
- Relieves anxiety
- Boosts creativity
- Improves memory
- Lessens depression
Walk in a park, on trails or on the beach to take advantage of nature’s calming effects. Walking is one of the best ways to reduce the stress hormones in your body. This automatically lifts your mood.
Getting the most out of walking
Walking is a safe, gentle form of exercise. For more benefits, add some variety into your walk. For example, try interval walking, which means you walk at different speeds to raise your heartbeat and tone various muscles. During your workout, walk at an easy, moderate speed for 15 minutes. Then, increase your speed for two minutes to raise your heartbeat. After two minutes, walk at a normal speed again for another 15 minutes. Repeat the intervals throughout your walking routine and you’ll feel — and look — healthier. When starting your walking routine, be sure to consider the following tips:
- Track your steps.
- Wear the right gear.
- Walk with correct form.
- Increase your endurance.
For best results, walk with a friend or join a walking group for motivation. Would you like to learn more about the proven benefits walking can have on your health? Visit Mercy.com today to make an appointment with a primary care physician or specialist and discuss your options. Your body and mind will thank you for taking new steps in your wellness journey.
Interested in more stories like this? Our Summer Survival Guide is full of healthy living tips to start your summer right. Learn more here.