You would like to be in good shape but don’t want to run a marathon or even take a short jaunt around the block? No worries. Walking may be one of the simplest, cheapest, and the most accessible forms of physical activity you are able to do for yourself.
Table of Contents
- 10 Benefits of Walking Everyday
- Tips to Prevent a Walking Injury
- Factors Affecting Average Walking Speed
10 Benefits of Walking Everyday
Walking still has a number of benefits for not only your physical health but also your mental health. The benefits are endless! So let’s go over some facts about walking to get you started.
1. Improve Circulation
One of the benefits of walking is that it exercises your whole body. When you walk, the tightness in your muscles creates space for more blood to flow. Blood is pumped through your heart, lungs, legs, and arms, which keeps you healthy and strong. This can help get rid of toxins. All those hours on the couch (or at the computer) mean that your circulation isn’t as good as it should be. This is largely due to a loss of muscle tone in your veins, which becomes more prominent when you’re inactive.
When you take a walk, you’re pumping oxygen-rich blood through your veins and increasing their capacity. This is great for your heart and overall health. When you exercise regularly, your heart rate will increase, pumping more oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
2. Burn Calories
Walking burns calories at a slower rate than running, but it’s very gentle on the joints and offers a lower-impact workout. If you have joint or back problems, walking may be your best bet for exercise. In one study by the American Heart Association, people who walked an average of 45 minutes a day lowered their total and LDL cholesterol by 9 percent. This can help prevent heart disease by lowering your risk of stroke and heart attacks, among other things. This is the number one reason why many people walk.
Running is good at burning calories, but the most efficient way to burn calories is through walking. Walking burns around one calorie per minute, and this means that if you walk for just 10 minutes, you will have burned around 100 calories! Improve metabolism: Your body needs to burn calories to maintain a healthy weight, so walking helps your body maintain a steady calorie burn even when you’re sleeping. A 155-pound person burns about 240 calories an hour when they walk briskly (equivalent to a 12-minute mile).
3. Lower Your Blood Sugar
Walking is ideal for diabetics since it doesn’t require any equipment. The change in pace sends your brain to release chemicals that help control your blood sugar levels and lower the risk of having heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Studies have consistently found that people who do moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, can significantly lower blood sugar levels for up to an hour. The effect seems to last longer the more exercise you do. Roughly 30 minutes of brisk walking can significantly lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes by up to 25%. Higher intensity activities may have a greater impact, but any activity that gets your heart rate up is an excellent way to get diabetes under control.
4. Improve Your Mood
Walking is often considered a natural mood elevator and has been studied to have a positive influence on stress levels. As you walk, your brain releases endorphins which are natural opioids that give you a sense of calm. If you’re feeling stressed out or tired, set off on a walk around the block and see how it makes you feel. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly experience a significant increase in their sense of well-being and happiness.
For example, you feel happier when you’re outdoors versus being cooped up inside all day long. Walking outside has been shown to have a direct effect on oxytocin levels that stimulate feelings of happiness and well-being. A study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that people who walked 30 minutes per day were less likely to feel depressed than those who didn’t, and the effect was even more pronounced in people who walked at a moderate pace.
5. Decrease Risk of Chronic Diseases
You can get many of these benefits by walking briskly for about 30 minutes, three to five times per week. The risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s decreases as your physical activity increases. This is based on a number of studies that suggest that exercise improves insulin sensitivity, prevents weight gain, and redistributes body fat in a healthier way.
People who walk for at least 4 hours a week are half as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease. One study has also found that women who walked for an hour every day had a 42% lower risk of colon cancer. Furthermore, walking can help you avoid or manage certain types of sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea.
6. Live Longer
Physical activity has been shown to lengthen life spans. The average lifespan of humans is about 78 years. By taking up to two hours a day for extended periods, you can live up to 90 years old! In a long-term study of 5,000 adults aged 50 to 74 years old for ten years, the mortality rate among the most active people was 47% lower than that among less-active people.
7. Alleviate Joint Pain
Walking is a natural therapy for relieving joint pain. It can help keep cartilage healthy and lubricated. In one study, knee cartilage recovered in 12 weeks when walking was prescribed for osteoarthritis patients. Patients suffering from arthritis may also experience less pain if they walk on a regular basis. Walking offers relief from other types of physical stress as well such as relieving stress on your neck, back, arms, and legs. Walking also helps strengthen large muscle groups in the legs, hips, back, arms and shoulders. It also strengthens your bones by helping to distribute weight more evenly.”
8. Enhances Creativity
Regular exercise can improve memory and enhance creativity. The effect of walking on lateral thinking was studied by psychologists at the University of Kent, England. When you walk with your head straight and your shoulders back, you are not only building up strength in your spine but also improving your posture, which leads to greater confidence plus more productive thinking. Walking is proven to create changes in brain function that can improve cognitive function.
Studies have found that aerobic exercise, such as walking, may increase brain power and improve creativity by triggering new connections between nerve cells within different parts of the brain. Furthermore, creative writing can be accomplished more effectively while walking. If you are looking to write a short story or perhaps an essay for school, try taking a walk during your thinking time and watch your ideas flow.
9. Strengthen Immune System
Walking helps the body’s natural defense system fight off diseases and prevent infection as it stimulates white blood cells and lymphocytes. Moreover, physical activity like walking can release antibodies that might help prevent illnesses like colds or flu that can weaken your body.
10. Improve Your Balance and Coordination
When you walk, your vestibular system is stimulated, making it easier for you to balance since you’re using a sense that’s already in your body. When you walk, lower-body muscles are used for power, boosting endurance, and mobility, while upper body muscles are used for stability, control, and power. Research has also found that walking improves hand-eye coordination in older adults, which can help prevent falls.
The co-operation between the organs when walking, such as the heart and lungs, causes the body to become more efficient in using oxygen. Moreover, the exercise causes muscle fibers to produce new mitochondria, which are responsible for generating new energy. As a result, this increases endurance.
Tips to Prevent a Walking Injury
Even though walking is considered a safe and effective working-out solution for all people despite age and gender, it probably results in injuries. So here is some advice for you.
Get the Right Shoes
When you’re getting started, your feet will need to get used to your new pair of shoes. Worn-out shoes can lead to sprains, blisters, broken metatarsals, or other serious injuries that are common among runners. For the musculoskeletal system to work properly, it needs stability and support. Pick out a shoe that has good arch support, that doesn’t have too much give in the heel area, and is long enough to walk in comfortably.
When you begin your walk, take a few deep breaths first. You should always start with light exercise before engaging in any strenuous activity like walking or running. A warm-up will prepare your muscles for more intense physical activity while preventing injury. The goal is to raise the heartbeat and the body’s core temperature gradually.
Keep the Right Walking Posture
The correct walking technique begins with good posture. This means maintaining the natural curvature of your spine and standing up straight, lifting your chest and chin to align them with your pelvis. It will be much easier to practice this if you initially extend your arm forward then down by the side of your body. A good posture not only reduces stress on your muscles and joints but also improves your balance.
After completing a walk, give yourself some time to cool down before starting on another activity or going indoors. After you walk/run for 15 – 20 minutes, cool down by walking slowly or doing some gentle stretches. If you’ve been walking for an extended period of time (even as little as five minutes), slow to an easy pace for one minute before stretching. It is very important for the better recovery of muscles after exercise.
Keep a Healthy Pace
When walking, always walk at a regular pace that is both comfortable for you and within your limits. A good average for most people is three to five miles per hour. This will benefit you more like a walker as opposed to a jogger as you will burn more fat by walking at this pace as opposed to jogging. You may find that you can cover further distances if you walk quickly but make sure to take regular breaks. Fast walking for too long an exercise could damage the tendons and ligaments because it requires great effort from your body to slow down.
Build up Your Endurance Gradually
No matter how long or far you want to go for a walk, anything more than five hundred meters should be done in increments. Start with small distances like fifty meters (a quarter-mile) every other day, building up to larger distances like five hundred meters (or about one-third of a mile) two times per week.
Factors Affecting Average Walking Speed
Different walkers will perform differently. Why is it happen? In general, the speed at which a person can walk depends on many elements such as age, gender, size of their body, fitness level, and health condition.
In fact, different age groups have different average walking speeds. For instance, your old grandmother may only be able to walk at a slow pace, but you can expect to walk somewhere between 4.8-6.2 mph as an average for people of your age group.
Men can also expect to walk around 4-5 mph per hour on average, with women walking more like 3-4 mph on average per hour. The averages are determined by fitness levels and the overall health of the person in question is taken into account. This means that if your overall health was poor or you weren’t physically fit, then your speed would be lowered accordingly with this factor considered as well.
Your body size does not necessarily affect how fast you can walk or how much you need to walk in order to reap the benefits. However, individuals who are heavier may find that they need to walk more mileage in order to reach an equivalent level of fitness as someone who is lighter-weight.
People with a higher fitness level have a higher average walking speed than people with a low fitness level. However, with practice, your fitness level may improve. For example, if you are in poor shape but decide to begin walking three times a week for half an hour each time, you may find that after several weeks you are able to walk for 75 minutes without feeling tired or out of breath.
Overall Health Conditions
In general, it would seem that fewer health conditions will lead to a higher average walking speed than more severe ones, so somebody with no preexisting conditions should be able to walk at a slower average speed than somebody who suffers from multiple chronic conditions.