It might seem like a passive exercise, but walking has an extraordinary number of health benefits both mentally and physically. A recent study found that people who took a brisk walk daily added, on average, an extra 3 to 7 years to their lifespan. The great thing is that it doesn’t matter when you start, as walking offers health benefits at all ages, and it’s an easy exercise to incorporate into your routine. So what makes walking so good for you? Here are the top 4 reasons why you should consider walking more!
- Physical Fitness
One of the more obvious benefits of walking is that it means you’re not sitting. Sitting for longer than 8 hours a day has been associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer – so the more time taken away from your desk and spent in the outdoors stretching your limbs, the better!
Walking involves all the muscles in the body – and if you concentrate on breathing deeply and standing tall, it can help to improve posture, increase circulation and lower blood pressure.
- Stress Relief
There are very few things that can be as soothing as being surrounded by nature. Walking gives you the ultimate ‘me-time’ – no distractions, no technology, fresh air and the sights and sounds of the outdoors. It’s a great way to prepare for the day or unwind in the evenings; and if you have a furry companion to keep you company, the mental health benefits are even better!
- Sun Exposure
In Australia we’re big on sun protection – but the sun isn’t something you should shy away from completely as a small amount of sun exposure every day can be beneficial for health. The vitamin D derived from regular walking can improve immune system function; ward off infection and even help to heal skin disorders.
Just make sure you’re protected with a natural sunscreen, and don’t overdo it! Walking early in the morning (before 11am) and late in the afternoon (after 4pm) is the safest time for maximum sun exposure without the damage.
- Routine of Walking
Make walking necessary. Do you drive to work every day? Park a little further away from the office. If you catch public transport, get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. If you have a dog, get up 20 minutes earlier and take them for a morning walk.
To get the most benefits, wear comfortable shoes and put your phone on silent so that you really have time to think, and to enjoy the quiet time it affords you. It’s not often we get longer than 10 or 15 minutes to ourselves, with no distractions – so breathe deep and enjoy it!