What are the benefits of walking? Since our earliest ancestors straightened up on two legs, walking has been our primary mode of personal movement. Being bipedal is the number one trait that separates us from our primate cousins.
Humans were biomechanically designed to walk, so our bodies developed in order to receive the maximum benefits from this simple, but extremely effective exercise. No other low-impact workout does more for the human body’s daily health and fitness needs than walking. Walking is the easiest exercise, and you can do it anywhere at any time of day. Besides, it just feels good to get a daily walk.
Slip on Your Walking Shoes and Slim Down
Well, since walking is an exercise, it contributes towards losing weight and maintaining a healthy body shape. For a person who weighs 180 pounds, walking burns about 100 calories per mile. The average walking speed is between two and a half to three miles an hour. When you are calculating how long it will take you to walk a mile, figure on twenty minutes per mile.
After forty minutes, you’ll have burned 200 calories. How fast you walk is not as big a factor as to how far you walk. With that said, if you do choose to walk faster at a power walking pace, you will burn off more fat.
One of the secret and amazing benefits of walking for health is that it helps mobilize the body to dip into fat reserves and burn stored fat. For each pound of weight, you want to lose, that’s 3,500 calories. So, let’s say you decide to walk 2 miles per day for five days a week.
That’s 1,000 calories a week. You’ll lose a pound after three and a half weeks. At the end of a year, if you keep up your walking schedule at this pace, you’ll have lost about 14.8 pounds. It might not seem like a big deal to take a daily forty-minute walk, but the calories burned and pounds lost really do add up over time.
How does walking benefit your body’s health and wellbeing?
Besides burning calories and losing weight, walking exercises also contribute to overall body health for your circulation, heart, digestive system, skeleton, and oxygen intake. Proper blood circulation and heart health reduce your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. Do your legs ache or are your hands and feet cold from poor circulation? Put on some sneakers and take a quick walk. It will help expand your veins and arteries, yet another benefit of walking.
Walking will also help manage diabetes, by improving the digestive system’s functions in the stomach and intestines, and stabilizing your blood sugar. A 2012 study, published in the US National Library of Medicine, found that those people with type 2 diabetes who walk 2,600 steps each day have a 0.2%lower A1c
(average glucose levels).
Another study of 179 type 2 diabetes patients in 2005 showed that a daily three-mile walk actually reduced drug costs by $550 and other medical costs by $700. That’s like saving $1,250 every year.
Studies have also shown that even a short twenty-minute walk can make you feel better. Your mood improves, you feel lighter inside, and you have more energy, too. Your body was designed to walk, so it’s the best kind of daily exercise you can do. You’ll benefit from the emotional effects every time you do.
A Pedestrian’s Good Posture
In order to get the full benefits from walking properly, please keep the following points in mind. Keep your head up. It might be beneficial to prevent looking at the ground to see where you’re going, but you want to be sure you’re not looking at the ground.
Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. Also, let out the tension in your neck and upper back. Try to maintain good posture, too, which will prevent stiffness in your spine and shoulders. Sometimes serious fitness walkers pump their arms, but you don’t have to.
Just keep a slight bend in your elbows and swing your arms regularly and freely. In the abdomen area, tighten up your stomach muscles a little bit. Finally, make sure your stride is even and your foot rolls from the heel to the toe with each step.
Walking Benefits the Mind
Many famous people in history have been regular walkers, from Charles Dickens strolling through London’s streets for story ideas toHenry David Thoreau’s
famous essay, “Walking.” “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,” wroteFriedrich Nietzsche
. One unexpected benefit of walking is that it slows your thoughts down and allows your mind to wander.
All sorts of creative ideas, powerful insights, and meditative thoughts can come to the surface while your feet are moving. Mindfulness and Zen practitioners likeThich Nhat Hanh
and philosophers likeSoren Kierkegaard
have extolled the many benefits of a stilled, peaceful mind. Walking is one of the easiest ways to enter into that meditation mental state.
When was the last time you had quiet, quality time to yourself? There’s no better solo activity than simply taking a walk. You can bring along some headphones to listen to a podcast, music, or the radio. Wear comfortable shoes and pick a route that interests you.
Some wonderful places to walk are along the beach, in a nature preserve, on a wooded trail, in a busy area of your local city, and on quiet neighborhood streets. If you have a dog, bring them along, too. You’ll both benefit from walking.
As a lifelong regular walker and nature lover, Thoreau believed that “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Once you’ve started the beneficial habit of walking, you will discover the many blessings from it. Whether you reduce your waistline, manage your diabetes, calm your mind, improve your mood, or just enjoy some quiet time by yourself, walking is truly the best way to travel.
Walking at Home Can Help Boost Poor Circulation in Legs, Study Shows:
Abdominal adiposity and daily step counts as determinants of glycemic control in a cohort of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus:
Diabetes Care: Make Your Diabetic Patients Walk:
Acute effects of brisk walking on effect and psychological well-being in individuals with type 2 diabetes: