Did you know that walking for just 30 minutes a day can improve your overall health? Seriously. Just 30 minutes each day can help to increase your cardiovascular health, reduce body fat, improve muscle strength, strengthen bone mass and more. It can also help to reduce your risk of chronic illness, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. If you’re the type of person who says “no” to high-intensity workouts but “yes” to free exercise that you can do in the comfort of your own neighborhood, then walking is for you. Here are eight good reasons to take up walking, starting today.
1. Lose Excess Weight
Though the exact number of pounds and inches from your waistline you will lose depends on several factors — including walking speed, your current weight, the terrain and the distance you travel — research shows that a 30-minute walk can help you lose an average of 200 calories. Over time, those lost calories will equate to weight loss and a trimmer waistline.
2. Improve Circulation
Several chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, stem from poor blood circulation. Walking increases heart rate and lowers blood pressure, two outcomes that lead to increased heart health. In fact, per the findings of several studies, women who walk for just 30 minutes each day can reduce their risk of stroke by as much as 20% to 40%, depending on their walking speed.
3. Boost Your Immune System
In a time where flu-like diseases are increasingly common and, many times, fatal, improved immunity is a benefit you can’t ignore. One study that tracked 1,000 adults during flu season found that individuals who walked for 30 to 45 minutes each day had 43% fewer sick days than those who did not. Furthermore, when the walking adults did get sick, their symptoms were not as severe.
4. Stave Off Mental Decline
One study of over 6,000 women aged 65 and older found that walking can slow mental decline significantly. Women who walked 2.5 miles or more each day experienced mental decline at a rate of 17%. Women who walked just .5 miles per day, however, had an average rate of mental decline of 25%.
5. Boost Your Energy Levels
If you feel tired midday, don’t reach for a second pot of coffee. Rather, get outside and get moving. Walking boosts oxygen flow throughout the body, which results in increased energy levels.
6. Improve Your Mood
Walking, like more traditional forms of exercise, releases endorphins, which are the body’s happy hormones. If you walk for 30 minutes a day, three to four days a week, you can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and boost your self-esteem.
7. Sleep Better
If sleep is becoming more difficult to come in older age, consider starting your day with an hour-long walk. Studies show that individuals between 50 and 75 who walk each morning sleep better than those who do not.
8. Live Longer
Each of these benefits adds up to one major advantage: A longer life. Researchers found that individuals who walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes each day have a 20% lower risk of dying prematurely than individuals who remain sedentary or walk at a slow pace. You can reduce your risk even more by upping your pace to four or more miles per hour.
So, there you have it. Walking is not just good for you; it is possibly the best exercise you can do for your health, overall quality of life and longevity.