Walking is one of the most versatile activities out there. It doesn’t matter what your age or physical condition as is almost anyone can walk. You can walk anywhere, it does not require any special equipment, there are no fees, there are no special skills required, and there is very little risk of injury. Walking is great for cardio, weight loss, balance, coordination, strengthening bones and muscles, and overall well-being. It can also prevent or manage various conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Here are some more specific reasons as to why you should be walking and making it a frequent activity.
Walking can reduce the risk of blood clots. This is due to the calf acting as a venous pump as it contracts and pumps blood from the feet and legs back to the heart. Walking can help fight off heart disease by increasing the heart rate, strengthening the heart, and lowering blood pressure. Studies have shown that post-menopausal women who walked one to two miles a day lowered their blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks or approximately six months. Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of a stroke by 20% and a reduction of 40% when they increased their pace.
A Longer Life
Walking can actually lead to a longer life. Research has shown that those who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35% less likely to die over the next years than their non-walking peers. This number increases to 45% less likelihood for those who have underlying health conditions.
Weight Loss and Muscle Strengthening
A brisk 30-minute walk can burn 200 calories. Walking is, without a doubt, one of the easiest weight loss plans out there and one that almost anyone can follow. Walking also strengthens leg, abdominal, and even arm muscles if you pump your arms while you walk. This increases your range of motion as it shifts pressure and weight from your joints and muscles which can also reduce arthritis pain.
Help for Your Joints
Most joint cartilage has no direct blood supply but instead gets nutrition from fluid that circulates as people move. Impact from movement such as walking “squishes” cartilage which brings oxygen and nutrients into the area. Depriving your joints of this essential fluid can speed up degradation, thus walking can keep your joints healthier longer.
Fighting Mental Decline
A study of 6,000 women age 65 and older found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more than others. Women who walked 2.5 miles a day had a 17% decline in memory function as those who walked less than a half-mile per week showed a 25% decline. Another study found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter mile per day had half the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s compared to men who walked less.
So if you want to improve circulation, shed some pounds, strengthen your muscles, reduce your chances of mental decline, and improve your overall sense of well-being, lace up your sneakers and treat yourself to a walk.