THE AMAZING BENEFITS OF WALKING DAILY
We all know that exercise is good for our health. However, most people (myself included) don’t always make exercise a priority.
It’s easy to get caught up with life – with kids getting sick, work deadlines, travel schedules, and other distractions. I get thrown off my workout schedule all the time if my kids aren’t feeling well or if they woke up at night.
However, even though I may not work out daily, I do take my own health very seriously (thus, the blog I write on nutrition). I’m always on the lookout for a smart way to stay in shape and feel good, while not taking too much time.
One of the absolute best ways I’ve found to stay in good shape, feel good, and get some clarity of mind is to take a brisk walk daily.
When I looked into the benefits of walking daily, I was surprised at how good it is – both for your body and your mind.
Here are some of the benefits of walking daily:
- Reduce Colon Cancer
According to a study done by the University of Washington in St. Louis (confusing name for a school!) walking two hours per week (or about 20 minutes per day) was shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer in women. The study included 80,000 women, but did not include men. However, there’s no reason to believe that they wouldn’t benefit as well.”‘We looked at women who only participated in walking and found that walking was sufficient to reduce risk of colon cancer’” says study co-author Kathleen Wolin, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The study was published recently in the International Journal of Cancer.”
- Live Longer
Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School discovered that people who exercise regularly in their 50’s and 60’s (including brisk walking) are 35% less likely to die in the following 8 years than people in the same age group who do not exercise.
A similar study by Cambridge University found that 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise, like walking, adds about 7.2 years to your life expectancy, on average.
- Improve Mood
A California State University, Long Beach, study showed a positive relationship between the number of steps someone takes daily and their mood. They believe that the reason for this direct correlation is that walking releases endorphins that make you feel good and reduce stress. Download the study here [pdf]. The study also showed a positive correlation with energy levels throughout the day.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, one of the benefits of walking daily is a marked improvement in mood. In their study, individuals who walked 30-45 minutes five days per week showed an improved mood and a decrease in sad or depressed feelings.
- Reduce High Blood Pressure
Walking daily has been shown to reduce high blood pressure. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, they recommend a walk every day to reduce health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Reduce Risk of Glaucoma
Would you believe that walking daily can help reduce the risk of glaucoma? According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, “studies have shown that moderate exercise such as brisk walking or jogging three or more times per week can have a lowering effect [on eye pressure].”
- Lose Weight
One of the easiest ways to lose weight is by creating a habit of walking daily. A brisk walk of 45 minutes per day can help you lose about 250 calories – that adds up to 1,750 calories per week. That means that if nothing else changes and you were to start walking every day, you’d lose a pound every two weeks from doing something pleasurable and very low impact.
- Tone Your Muscles
Walking is also great for your body and your muscles. Did you know that one of the benefits to walking daily can improve the look and tightness of your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings? If you focus on your posture – walking with your head up (not staring at your phone) shoulders back, and arms swinging gently – you’ll also tone your abs and waist.
- Strengthen Bones and Stop Osteoporosis
Walking has been shown to strengthen the bones and to stop the loss of bone mass from osteoporosis. A 30 minute daily walk can also reduce the risk of hip fractures by 40 percent in elderly participants.
- Helps Reduce Risk of Diabetes
American Association of Diabetes expert Tami Ross says that a 20-30 minute walk can help lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours”. Brisk daily walks can improve symptoms of Diabetes and actually help prevent the disease.
- Great for Your Lungs
Walking daily has also been shown to be fantastic for your breathing and your lungs. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “walking improves your breath. When walking your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through the bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.”
- Improve your circulation
Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Tennessee found that post-menopausal women who walked just one to two miles a day lowered blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks. Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
- Reduces Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the first things I noticed, when looking at the research, was some of the benefits of walking daily on your mind. Walking has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia significantly. A study by the Arthritis foundation and the University of Virginia found that men between the ages of 71 to 93 who walked more than .25 miles per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to improve your health, your mood, and your emotional state. It’s proven to make you happier and healthier. While we may not always have time to work out or exercise, finding ways to walk more can be pretty easy. Small changes, like seeking out and parking your car in the furthest possible parking spot, instead of the closest, can have a big impact over time.
I like to schedule conference calls for the start and end of my work day – that way I can jump on the call while walking to and from the office. I’d almost always rather have a meeting while walking than while sitting at my desk – this way I’m outside feeling good and also getting work done.
Another strategy I like to use to take advantage of the benefits of walking daily is to listen to books or podcasts while I walk. This way, I’m learning and doing something healthy at the same time.
What ways have you incorporated walking into your schedule? I’d love to learn some more tricks to squeezing out a few more steps each day – please let me know…