Sep 28, 2021
The Benefits of Just Walking
We see people all over town – from our neighborhood sidewalks to our parks to the guy next to us on the treadmill at the gym. They are ‘just walking’! Not even trying to jog or pick up the pace to a slow run. They are ‘just walking’! What good is ‘just walking’ doing for their physical fitness? Is it doing them any good at all?
The benefits of ‘just walking’ are amazingly underrated and phenomenally positive. ‘Just walking’ is likely the most underrated form of exercise. Science shows that placing one foot in front of the other leads to some seriously impressive mental and physical benefits.
When comparing the results of the most recent National Runners’ Health Study with the National Walkers’ Health Study, researchers found that the energy used for moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease over the study’s six-year period.
This means when it comes to some prominent markers of our health, walking at a moderate intensity can get the job done just as well as running, as long as we’re expending the same amount of energy. Great news for those of us that dread going for a jog.
Past studies have supported this notion, finding that a daily walk can reduce the risk of stroke in both men and women, reduce the days spent in a hospital each year and can even lower our risk of death by up to 39 percent (when compared with no leisure-time physical activity).
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who adhered to a walking program showed significant improvements in blood pressure, slowing of resting heart rate, reduction of body fat and body weight, reduced cholesterol, improved depression scores with better quality of life and increased measures of endurance.
While the physical benefits are notable, the mental boost that can be gleaned from adding a walk to our daily routine may be more immediate.
One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent. Researchers labelled this type of creativity “divergent thinking,” which they define as a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. According to the study, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
Walking has also been shown to improve memory and prevent the deterioration of brain tissue as we age. Plus, psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression also suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety and boosting mood.
We can summarize the amazing benefits of ‘just walking’:
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol
- Reduced joint and muscular pain or stiffness, reduced chance of developing diabetes
- Stronger bones and improved balance
- Increased muscle strength and endurance
- Reduced body fat
- No equipment necessary
- No membership required and no one gawking at us in the gym
- We can do it on vacation, at work and at home
- Improved creativity, mental acuity and decision making
- Can increase intensity at our own pace
- Can carry weights or add incline to increase the challenge
We really could go on forever talking about the unlimited benefits of ‘just walking’. Anyone can add this to their life, at any time. Today would be a great day to get started ‘just walking’. Be Blessed.
Category: Dr. Sterling