Walking is an effortless way to increase daily physical activity. Besides being free, the incremental benefits of walking continue to add up. Here are 10 of the healthiest reasons to increase walking now.
Healthiest Reasons to Increase Walking
Everyone knows that exercise is good. We tell ourselves we will get more physically active, yet often fail to follow through. Life gets in the way. But walking is a simple, easy, and free way to exercise. Bonus: Walking is good for physical and mental health.
Boost Energy and Vitality
In a 2022 review and meta-analysis, researchers found significant increases in energy and vitality in exercise in green outdoor versus urban outdoor environments.
- Ojala et al. (2019) demonstrated that low urban-oriented study participants showed significantly increased vitality scores with forest walking.
- Kinnafick and Thøgersen-Ntoumani (2014) showed a significant energy increase following a 15-minute walk in natural environments.
Walking Significantly Reduces Anxiety
Combatting anxiety can be challenging. Yet, research shows that walking can prove effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
- Liu et al. (2019), researching the health benefits of bamboo forest therapy, found increased positive mood after 15 minutes of viewing and 15 minutes of walking in the forest.
- Besides lowering anxiety, the bamboo forest walking reduced tension, anger, hostility, fatigue, and confusion.
Improves Tranquility and Calmness
Besides meditation, what else helps improve a sense of tranquility and calmness?
- According to research by Butryn and Furst (2003), walking in a park showed a statistically significant increase in tranquility compared with an urban environment.
Buddhist Walking Meditation Helps with Type 2 Diabetes
What about combining the two if walking is good and meditation is good? When evaluating traditional walking with Buddhist walking meditation, Gainey et al. (2016) found positive effects for Type 2 diabetes:
- Buddhist walking meditation significantly improved oxygen consumption.
- Fasting blood glucose levels significantly decreased with this form of mindful walking.
- Significantly decreased levels of HbA1c and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found in the Buddhist walking meditation group. This was compared with traditional walking.
- Furthermore, arterial stiffness improved, and blood cortisol levels were reduced with Buddhist walking meditation.
Walking Helps Reduce Stress
Walking outside is a simple yet effective way to lower stress levels. How it works: Exercise like walking reduces cortisol and adrenaline levels. These are stress hormones. Walking (and other brisk exercises) increases endorphin production. Endorphins are brain chemicals that are called natural painkillers and natural mood enhancers.
- The benefits of walking can occur with a brief, 20-minute walk. This is enough to clear your mind and reduce feelings of stress.
Walking May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline
As Americans age, rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continue to climb. But is there a non-medical way to help stave off cognitive decline? Research on walking shows promise in this area as well.
Research from the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reported that 31-plus minutes of moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity (steps, walking) was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. This was among women aged 65 and older.
Walking Could Boost Creativity
Are you looking for a burst of inspiration? Walking may be the answer. Researchers at Stanford University found that walking boosted participants’ creativity by 81 percent on one test and 23 percent on another.
- Interestingly, their creativity got a residual boost when participants were seated after walking.
- Furthermore, walking outdoors offered the highest quality results.
- Researchers concluded that walking spurs ideas free flow. It is a robust, simple solution to increase creativity.
Growing New Brain Cells May be Possible
Scientists are eager to find ways to stimulate the brain to produce new cells. Researchers are excited to study the potential benefits of walking to stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
- A study on aerobic activity, such as walking and dancing, found that white matter in the brain remodels itself with increased physical activity.
- The brain’s white matter is responsible for remembering and thinking.
- Being able to potentially grow new brain cells by walking demonstrates the brain’s plasticity and malleability.
Lower Anger and Hostility
Do you need to tamp down feelings of anger and hostility? Besides hitting a boxing bag, what else can you do? How about walking?
Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, commenting on the research, states that regular walking “modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility.” The article appeared in Prevention.
Brisk Walking Improves the Heart
Research shows that a 30-minute daily walk helps reduce heart disease risk. Researchers say walking should be recommended to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Walking can also help combat depression. So, step it up. Get out there. Enjoy a refreshing and reinvigorating walk today.
You must be logged in to post a comment.