A sedentary lifestyle is 4th on the list of factors that contribute to death worldwide. People, both young and old, have become so lazy and as a result they end up with so many health problems. The good news is that you do not have to hit the gym or engage in intense exercise routines.
Walking is a good habit to develop that will benefit your health now and the future. Here are 7 reasons for you to start or keep walking:
1. Regulates Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and physical activity such as walking helps you manage it by improving blood flow. High blood pressure has been called the “silent killer.” When not controlled, you heart would need to work progressively harder to pump blood through your arteries.
As a result, your heart may enlarge which will put you at risk for atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack.
Walking for just 30 minutes a day has the potential to lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
2. Weight Control
Adding 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine will help you burn about 150 to 200 more calories a day. That’s because regular walking can help improve the way your body responds to insulin.
The more you walk and the more you exercise, you are essentially utilizing resources so they won’t be stored as fats.
Note: Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate and control blood sugar by signaling the liver cells in the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to be used for energy. So by walking more, you are doing insulin’s job of converting glucose into energy.
Increased physical activity like walking also aids in losing weight by improving metabolism. This increase in activity will increase your energy usage and thus your basal metabolic rate.
3. Improves Sleep
Proper sleep is important if you want to stay healthy. Not sleeping well or not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on your body and overall health.
On the other hand, walking helps you sleep faster and sleep more soundly, especially if you are suffering from insomnia.
According to a study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, women between the ages of 50 to 75 who did regular 1-hour morning walks were found to be sleeping a lot better than women who didn’t walk.
4. Reduces Stress
Walking or any other physical activity, for that matter is such an effective stress reducer. This is due to its ability to trigger the release of endorphins.
Endorphins are potent brain chemicals that act as natural pain killers which in turn reduces stress.
Walking after a long day also helps you feel relaxed as your mind becomes calm and you will feel more positive and cheerful.
5. Improves Mental Health
As people age, walking as a daily exercise becomes increasingly important as it helps to reverse the effects of aging.
A study published in the Annals of Neurology found that the 69 participants between 55 and 88 years of age who met the exercise guidelines prescribed by the AHA (American Heart Association), showed a significantly lower risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
6. Strengthen Bones and Muscles
Walking can help build and maintain strong bones and muscles. How? The bones and muscles are living tissues that become stronger in response to any form of resistance exercise such as walking. So whenever you go for a walk, your body has to overcome gravity in order to keep you moving forward.
For every step you take, the bones, joints and muscles of your lower body get stronger as they propel your own body weight forward. Therefore, a physical activity like walking is an essential factor in muscle and bone health; it is also one of the first line of treatment for those suffering from osteoporosis.
7. Boosts Immune Function
Walking has been found to help strengthen your immune system to prevent illness by easing stress and increasing circulation. Walking or any form of exercise releases an influx of antibodies as well as neutrophils that help kill invading organisms.
Natural killer cells, which are another type of white blood cells, are also released that help the body destroy both tumors and viruses.
How much should you be walking? The popular fitness goal is walking 10,000 steps a day. And unless you have prior health conditions, this is easily achievable. In fact, people with active lifestyles often exceed this number.
There isn’t any evidence suggesting that there should be a limit on how much you should walk each day. If you can go beyond this number, the better it is for your health.
Do you go for morning or evening walks? What benefits have you experienced as a result? And if not, what’s preventing you? Please let us know in the comments section below.