Five-Star Physical Benefits
When it comes to losing weight, improving cardiac health, endurance, circulation and posture, walking gets five stars. The science supports it, and our Just the Positive (JTP) Facebook community agrees.
Studies indicate 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 your risk of death by up to 39 percent (when compared with no leisure-time physical activity). Those who adhered to a walking program showed significant improvements in blood pressure, a lower resting heart rate, reduction in body fat and body weight, reduced cholesterol and improved endurance.
“I use walking to assess my posture, make sure that my alignment is good, and reinforce positive and structurally balanced muscular activity while I'm walking,” says JTP Facebook fan Jill M. “It is my main form of exercise outside of Pilates and yoga.”
Researchers have also 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.
For those with knee, ankle or back problems and the significantly overweight, low impact walking is even recommended over running for achieving health and fitness goals, as it is less stressful on joints and can be done for longer periods of time without discomfort.
Christel H. enjoys physical and mental benefits from her walks. “I do morning walks five times a week. Physically it helps reduce inflammation, burn a few calories, and keep my joints lubricated and stretched. Mentally it's a break from any little stresses than seem to lighten or disappear once you're outside enjoying the environment. I believe all the walking I've done also helped me recover rather quickly from hip joint replacement last January.”
Mental & Emotional Benefits of Walking
As Christel noted above, the benefits of walking don’t stop with the body.
Walking can alleviate fatigue and enhance mood and a British Journal of Sports Medicine study found walking improves depression scores and improves quality of life. Psychologists found that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety.
“Walking in the forest surrounded by trees and singing birds refreshes and gladdens the mind, body and spirit,” relays Facebooker Joseph G.
Walking can also improve memory and prevent the deterioration of brain tissue as we age. A study published in Emotion demonstrated that Just 12 minutes of walking resulted in an increase in joviality, vigor, attentiveness and self-confidence versus the same time spent sitting. One Stanford University study found that walking had an impact on creativity, increasing output by an average of 60 percent.
Jeri D. gets ideas for work when she walks. “I walk everywhere I can. I think it gives me a different perspective on the city. I get story ideas for the paper.”
Walking is also a great way for people to connect with each other and connect with ideas.
“I love walking and documenting the changing seasons! I also love the conversations I have with friends while walking,” says Donna S. “It’s a different kind of conversation than what we have if we are going out to lunch and we’re sitting in a restaurant — I’ve noticed.”
The beauty of walking is its accessibility. You can do it at the gym on a treadmill, take laps around the mall, go to a park, hit a trail or just stroll out your front door. All you need is some time and a comfortable pair of shoes.
Where do you like to walk? What does walking do for you? Share your favorite routes and rituals on the JTP Facebook page.