Why should we walk regularly?
To answer this question as concisely as possible – because we sit too much. We could probably stop there, but let’s instead dive a little deeper into the benefits of walking and why it’s the most underrated activity there is.
Walking as Exercise and its Health Benefits:
Walking is the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to exercise – free and accessible to everyone with functioning legs, requires zero skill, is low impact, and has an unbelievably high return on health and well-being. Walking in increments of as little as 10 minutes has been proven to boost cardiovascular function and walking for at least 30 minutes a day every day can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 20%. Not only does walking give your heart some love, but it can give your love handles some room to breathe – walking can help burn calories and is very effective at helping people to maintain and lose weight. Walking can also help lower blood sugar when done following a meal because the extra circulation helps the body use the sugars from that meal. Studies have also shown that regular walking (at least 30 minutes a day) can improve immune system function. One study, conducted during flu season, found that on average, regular walkers took 43% fewer sick days than non-walkers. If that isn’t enough to get your butt out of the chair, then maybe you’ll be persuaded by the mood and energy-enhancing benefits of walking.
Walking to Boost Energy and Mood:
Walking is a powerful tool for unlocking your energy. As your blood flow increases with walking, so does the flow of oxygen, nutrients, and hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine – a potent concoction that just might turn your steps into a two-step. Studies have shown that with the boost in energy from walking often comes an enhancement in mental health and mood. This is something to which I can personally attest. I find in my own life that whenever I’m anxious or stressed, a good walk can help ease my strife. But perhaps the best benefit of walking is its creative potential.
Walking for Creativity:
Ever gone for a walk and had a sudden epiphany about a problem or situation in your life? Or maybe you’ve been on a walk, and a poem suddenly came to you from the ether. This is something exalted by some of the greatest minds of history. Since the days of Aristotle, there's been a belief that walking and especially walking in nature could lead to mental clarity, inspiration, and creative thinking. Nikola Tesla, inventor, and electrical genius reported having invented his revolutionary AC motor system while on a walk. Some of our greatest poets like Thoreau, Whitman, and Wordsworth wrote incessantly about the wonders of strolling through nature, extolling nature’s beauty and the physical and mental benefits bestowed by it. The benefits of walking in nature and their potential to transform life have been harped on by some of our modern thinkers as well. Exclaiming things like: “The energies in nature soothe and enliven us and support our most creative thinking,” a profound statement made by Dr. Sue Morter. In her enlightening book, The Nature Fix, author Florence Williams dives into the powers of being and walking in nature and reveals the science to support it. These are just a few examples of how walking can make a huge difference in our lives. So now that we see there’s a pretty good case for walking, where do we go from here?
Next Steps (hehe):
These are just some of the endless enhancements of walking. To learn more about the benefits of walking, I recommend taking a walk, preferably in nature. Happy travels.
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