Benefits of Walking

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

Walking may be the simplest way to work out and great way to improve or maintain your overall health. You can do it almost anywhere, and it’s a snap to get started: Just put one foot in front of the other.

Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment and unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is free, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise.

Walking is a Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.
Walking for fun and fitness isn’t limited to strolling by yourself around local neighborhood streets. There are various clubs, venues and strategies you can use to make walking an enjoyable and social part of your lifestyle.

Health benefits of walking

You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include: [1] [2] [4]

Improve Circulation

Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness. Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol. Post-menopausal women who walk just one to two miles a day can lower their blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks. Women who walk 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20%, and by 40%.

Lighten Your Mood

Walking releases natural pain­killing endorphins to the body one of the emotional benefits of exercise. Walking can also help in your mental health. it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.

To experience these benefits, aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate intensity exercise three days a week. You can also break it up into three 10-minute walks

Lose Weight

Walking helps in reducing body fat and Maintain a healthy weight. A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped. Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.

Strengthen Muscles

Walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles.

Improve Sleep

Studies found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk

Support Your Joints

Walking can help protect the joints, including your knees and hips. That’s because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints.

Walking may also provide benefits for people living with arthritis, such as reducing pain. And walking 5 to 6 miles a week may also help prevent arthritis.

Improve Your Breath

When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.

Can help lower your blood sugar 

Taking a short walk after eating may help lower your blood sugar.

A study found that taking a 15-minute walk three times a day (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner) improved blood sugar levels more than taking a 45-minute walk at another point during the day. [7]

Extend life expectancy

Walking has also been linked to a decreased risk of mortality, or a longer life expectancy. And the longer and faster you walk, the more it increases your life expectancy.

Boost immune system 

Walking briskly and regularly can also help protect you from getting a cold, the flu, or other immune-related illnesses. 

That’s because physical exercise like walking increases the amount of white blood cells circulating in your blood. These cells fight infection and other diseases as part of the body’s immune system

Tips for staying safe while walking 

To ensure your safety while walking, follow these tips: [3] [8]

  • See your doctor for a medical check-up before starting a new fitness program, particularly if you are aged over 40 years, are overweight or haven’t exercised in a long time.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and appropriate footwear to avoid blisters and shin splints.
  • Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, long sleeves and a hat to avoid sunburn.
  • Take waterproof clothing to avoid getting wet if it rains.
  • Carry a walking stick or umbrella to fend off unleashed, unfriendly dogs.
  • Before bush walking, check the weather forecast and take appropriate safety measures (for example, pack correct clothing).
  • Look out for hazards in alpine or coastal areas, such as cliff edges or large waves.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before and after your walk. If you are taking a long walk, take water with you.
  • If you walk in the evening or early morning hours, wear a reflective vest or light so cars can see you.
  • Wear sturdy shoes with good heel and arch support.

Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here’s how you’ll look when you’re walking: [1]

  • Warm up- Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
  • Cool down- At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
  • Stretch- After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you’d rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
  • Your head is up. You’re looking forward, not at the ground.
  • Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright.
  • You’re swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK.
  • Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward.

Set realistic goals [1]

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity.

The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can’t set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day.

Any amount of activity is better than none at all. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefit. Always speak to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

References:-

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261
  2. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/physical-activity/walking/12-benefits-of-walking
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-walking#safety
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-surprising-benefits-of-walking
  5. https://www.prevention.com/fitness/a20485587/benefits-from-walking-every-day/
  6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health
  7. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/03/dc13-0084
  8. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-for-good-health

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