Walking every day may sound like an extreme exertion of willpower, but doing so can change your body for the better. Many studies already have shown numerous health benefits of walking. For most of us, exercise is not our number one priority. Between rushing kids around, full-time jobs, household chores, and somehow fitting in eating and sleeping too—most of us just want to plop on the couch when we finally have free time.
So, here are ten surprising health benefits of walking which will motivate you to keep walking daily. Read on!
1. You may lose weight
The simple truth to losing weight is that you can’t do so unless you expend more calories than you take in. This can be tricky to manage, but even the benefits of walking 15 minutes a day can help you burn a few extra calories.
As long as you don’t reward yourself with take-out pizza for making an effort to exercise, those extra calories burned may trim some fat off your waistline. The benefits of morning walking can also stimulate your metabolism, helping you to lose weight more efficiently.
2. Reduces your risk of heart disease
Your heart needs exercise to perform at its best. If you never raise your heart rate above resting, your heart never has the chance to get that important exercise. One great benefit of walking is that people who walk every day have stronger hearts, and stronger circulation systems.
That means the chance of heart disease, stroke, and other related diseases will go down. If you suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol, this is especially so. A daily walk can help bring those high numbers back under control.
3. Reduces the risk of cancer
While many factors play a part in who will and will not get cancer, studies show that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with higher cancer risk. Every time you get outside and enjoy the fresh air, your more active style is reducing the risk of this horrible and potentially deadly disease.
This could be because it reduces your risk of other diseases we know contribute to the risk of cancer—such as obesity and the reduction of inflammation, or it could have a more direct impact on cancer. Until we know more, walking is free, and has so many walk health benefits, so why not?
4. Improves blood pressure
Walking can also help reduce high blood pressure. In a study done on 89 patients with mild hypertension, those who completed 10,000 steps every day (about 4-5 miles) showed a significant drop in their blood pressure.
This is good news for those with high blood pressure who would rather not end up taking medication for it. A walk a day is a natural way to bring your blood pressure down while helping you with so many other potential health problems at the same time.
5. It relieves restless leg symptoms
As much as 10% of the population suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. This common condition makes getting to sleep at night very difficult because the sufferer has an almost irresistible desire to move their legs.
Unless the legs are moved, they itch, burn, or tingle incessantly, robbing the patient of much-needed sleep. For those who suffer from this syndrome, hearing about this next walk health benefit will be music to their ears: walking helps reduce and sometimes eliminate the symptoms.
6. Reduces signs of aging
With all the creams and procedures available to combat the signs of aging, it’s surprising that men and women of all ages are not hitting the sidewalks in droves. A free and easy way to combat the signs of aging is to simply take a 30-minute walk.
A large-scale study that looked at over 17,000 Harvard graduates found that those who walked for 30 minutes every day lived longer than those who don’t. Those who walked had fewer signs of all types of aging, from age-related diseases to simple wrinkles and graying hair.
Walking may even help activate the telomerase enzyme, which is responsible for the integrity of your DNA. All that for just 30 minutes of your time. There are face masks that need more! If you were looking for the perfect walk health benefit, this walking benefits for skin is the probably one.
7. Gives your mood a boost
Walking is so good at helping give you a more positive mindset, the act of walking out in the woods even has a name in Japan – forest bathing. Simply being outside in nature can give you big health benefits, making you feel happier and even fighting mental disorders such as depression.
Even if you don’t have so much as a dandelion in a sidewalk crack for nature, walking can still improve your mood. The mental benefits of walking also proven by science.
Scientists controlled for other factors—such as outdoor air and greenery—to see if walking still improved mood. Even when given depressing surroundings and told about an unpleasant task they would have to do afterward, walking still improved the mood of the test group.
Walking can even boost your mood when you don’t expect it to, so no matter what your reason for feeling sad is, you may find yourself feeling better with this walk health benefit.
8. It can help reduce pain
As we get older, aches and pains are a natural part of our lives. It’s also a part of the lives of people who must stand or sit for hours a day in the same position. Those stiff necks and aching ankles are all part of living, but they may not have to be.
Walking can help ease pain from a variety of different causes, whether that pain is arthritis or simply sleeping in an unusual position the night before.
9. Manage your blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes, or simply want to prevent it, stretching your legs every day may be the solution. Walking helps regulate your blood sugar levels, helping to improve the health of diabetes sufferers and prevent diabetes in those that don’t yet have the condition.
10. Reduce stroke risk
Walking helps improve overall circulation, which is good for those who are at risk for strokes. Strokes can be very damaging to your health, and result in paralysis and loss of mental acuity.
Saving yourself from a stroke could be as simple as a daily walk, and with all the other health benefits there is no reason not to take it.
Walking is an amazing boon to your health. Even if all you can do is step outside for a few minutes every day, you’ll be benefiting from this practice for years to come.