For most of us, walking is something that we do subconsciously, just to get from A to B. However, at some point, we became so dependent on cars, buses, trains, planes, scooters, and who knows what else, that we forgot about the simple joy and health benefits of taking a leisurely stroll.
In this article, we want to remind you of what we deem to be the 6 most important benefits of walking
Benefit One - It keeps you fit
Walking burns calories, like any physical activity. The more you do, the better! You can maintain or lose weight, depending on your walking speed, the distance you cover, the incline, and your current weight. Experts recommend walking 10,000 steps per day as a minimum.
Benefit Two - Live longer and more comfortably
Here are some examples:
- Walking 30 minutes per day, five days per week, reduces the risks of coronary heart disease by about 19 percent (on average). This figure increases the more you walk.
- Walking protects the joints in your knees and hips, as it helps to lubricate them and strengthen the surrounding muscles. This all helps to prevent arthritis.
- One study found that people who walk at least 30 minutes per day have 43% fewer sick days! Symptoms were also lessened in those who did get sick.
- Walking at a brisk pace (over 4mph) reduces risk of death by 24% on average, for heart and cancer related diseases.
- Taking regular walks is proven to reduce the risk of dementia.
Benefit Three - Improved mood and energy
Going for a walk can do more for your system than caffeine! Walking increases oxygen flow, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, all of which lift your energy levels.
Generally, the more energy you have, the better your mental health. Low energy leads to anxiety, depression, and negative moods. High energy leads to positive thinking, self-esteem, and social inclusion. Improved mood and increased energy levels will lead to reduced stress.
Benefit Four - Creative thinking
Walking is proven to clear your head and help you think creatively. Researchers found that people come up with their best ideas while walking outdoors, compared to walking indoors or sitting.
Physical activity and creativity work together, allowing for ideas to free flow, perhaps because your nerves are calmed, your brain is relaxed, and you’re getting more oxygen. Problems and pressures dissolve, allowing you to think rationally and strategically.
Benefit Five - It’s good for the environment
- Walking makes the best use of urban space and energy
- Walking rarely causes injury, meaning no medical time or resources are required
- You don’t need specialist equipment with a lot of embedded carbon
- It doesn’t require the burning of fuel or exhausting of emissions
- Many people unnecessarily drive short trips of less than 2km when it’s feasible to walk
- It’s a good habit to teach to younger people, especially with the way the world is changing
- Walking is not contributing to traffic or noise
Benefit Six - Walking contributes to mindfulness
Isn’t it nice to just be out in the real world sometimes, away from screens and machines? Mindfulness is the art of being aware of what’s going on inside you and around you, but because of all of the distractions of modern life, it can be incredibly hard to be in tune with this.
Fortunately walking offers a solution, especially when you walk alone, as you can spend time getting lost in your thoughts, while simultaneously observing and learning from your immediate environment.
Mindfulness leads to clarity, compassion, understanding, patience, respect, and enlightment. This can make us appear more likeable and intelligent to those around us.
To walk mindfully, all you must do is appreciate each step, and soon you will see how you can use your steps to create joy.