Is walking the key to health? Walking has been described by some researchers as the perfect exercise. Just walking at a moderate pace of 5km/hour or 3miles/hour uses enough energy to count as a moderate intensity workout.
Research also shows that walking can help improve your health in surprising ways, from strengthening your heart to boosting your self-confidence. This proves you don’t need high intensity workouts to be healthier.
Here are 6 surprising things that happen when you start walking regularly.
Your mental health improves
Walking has been shown to have a strong, positive influence on your mental health, helping to alleviate symptoms of a wide variety of mental illnesses. A range of studies have demonstrated improvements in depression, anxiety, psychological distress, well-being, cognitive function, dementia, sleep and chronic fatigue all through walking! Phew!
You feel more powerful
Researchers have also explored how movement can influence your emotions and cognition. In a 2018 study, scientists found that it was possible to change someone’s mood by changing their walking posture.
Participants who were instructed to walk with an upright posture showed significantly better psychological states including less sleepiness, less pain and less low arousal. At the same time, they also reported more feelings of power, including dominance, control and confidence.
So next time you’re feeling low, go for a walk with your head held high and your shoulders back and be prepared to feel more powerful!
You get better muscle tone
Hello summer body! Hitting the gym might be the fastest way to tone up your body but walking can also make a big difference! Just going for a brisk stroll each day can help reduce body fat and increase muscle strength, helping to tone up your body over time.
It lowers your blood pressure
A 6-month study of adults in the US and Sweden found that walking just 10,000 steps per day effectively lowered the blood pressure of the individuals taking part. This is important for reducing your risk of a range of diseases including heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
It improves your aerobic fitness
Studies have shown that walking can boost your aerobic fitness, also known as your cardiorespiratory endurance. Your aerobic fitness measures your body’s ability to supply oxygen to your muscles through your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Both walking fast and walking for more than 75 minutes at a time have been linked to higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. Walking regularly can help to improve your heart and lung health, boost your endurance and have a positive influence on your other workouts too!
It increases your flexibility
Though you may not think of walking as a way to increase your flexibility, by getting out of the house and moving your body you can have a positive impact on your flexibility.
A 2019 study of elderly individuals who took part in a Nordic walking program - walking while using walking poles - found clear improvements in the participants’ flexibility scores, as well as their strength, movement coordination, dynamic balance, and aerobic capacity.
The benefits of walking regularly
Research demonstrates that walking can be hugely beneficial for your health, while also being a carbon neutral way of getting around. If you ever needed a reason to take the stairs, leave the car at home and get out and about then this is it!