Would you believe if someone told you about a wonder drug which won’t cost you anything, is appropriate for all age groups, time-tested, scientifically proven, easily accessible, needs no excuses and has no side effects. Do you want to know the benefits of walking for good health?
Sounds too good to be true?
It is true! All these claims hold true for the simple leisurely activity of walking.
Still skeptical about the above claims Benefits of Walking for Health.
Don’t worry! We are all skeptical about the benefits of walking and continue to ignore it as a healthy activity.
This article aims to show all the benefits of walking for health for anyone and well-being of an individual.
You will see that all major organs and systems in the body incur the benefits of walking for health.
Understanding the Benefits of Walking for Good Health
In scientific terms, walking is defined as a rhythmic dynamic activity involving the larger skeletal muscles of the body which requires a very low level of fitness.
Walking is the nearest activity to perfect exercise, an exercise which comes most naturally to us and an exercise which we mostly ignore.
Lack of physical activity has been estimated to cause around 5.3 million deaths per year. Walking is perhaps the most accessible form of physical activity appropriate for all age groups.
Various studies have shown that non-vigorous physical activity can lead to significant (20-30%) reduction in risk of all-cause mortality.
Brisk walking which is a non-vigorous physical activity if done for 2.5 hours per week has been shown to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality by 19%
Top Benefits of Walking for Good Health
1. Walking for Healthy Heart
Moderate intensity walking is effective in lowering Diastolic Blood Pressure levels. At least one hour of walking per week predicted lower risk of coronary heart disease in women.
Walking has been shown to increase aerobic fitness, decrease body weight adiposity and reduce waist size.
Walking for 150 min/week is associated with 19% reduction in the risk of heart diseases.
2. Benefits of Walking for Brain
It has been shown that the impact of the foot while walking alters the pressure waves through the arteries which modify and can increase the blood supply to the brain.
The benefits of walking help the blood flow in the brain are very dynamic and are affected directly by the cyclic aortic pressures which interact with retrograde pressure pulses arising from the impact of the foot.
When compared with running there is a lighter impact of foot associated with walking, but walking still leads to increase blood flow to the brain
Walking has been demonstrated to decrease the risk of cerebrovascular diseases, especially ischemic stroke.
The benefits of walking are dose-dependent, that is the risk of cerebrovascular diseases decreases further with increasing intensity and duration of walking.
3. Benefits of Walking for Mental Health
Walking intervention programs which involved moderate intensity walking for about 40 min, 3 times per week demonstrated a decrease in the occurrence of depressive symptoms in an inactive menopausal woman.
Walking is associated with increased activation and more positive mood with most of the subjects reporting a feeling of being happy and delighted on walking for 10-15 min and associated return to calmness and relaxation after the mood elevator effect had weaned off.
Thus walking can help to uplift mood as well as act as an anxiolytic.
physical activity is done regularly and on a long-term basis, including walking is associated with better cognitive function and less cognitive decline with age.
Walking has a positive effect on the size of the Hippocampus. Research has shown that moderate to low-intensity walking is associated with the larger hippocampal volume.
Hippocampal atrophy is associated with memory impairment and dementia and is a key biomarker in the preliminary stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Thus, you can walk your way to good memory and offset the effects of dementia. Many people don’t know the simple benefits of walking for mental health
4. Improve Eye-Vision
In light-induced retinal degeneration and age-related vision loss walking as a physical activity has been shown to have a protective effect.
5. Sleep-Related Benefits of Walking
Moderate-intensity walking decreased the time it took people with chronic insomnia to fall asleep when compared with when they did a session of vigorous aerobic exercise (running) and when they did no exercise at all.
Walking improves the circadian rhythm of the body thus decreasing the episodes of daytime naps and eventually improving the quality of night sleep.
Walking has also shown to improve the quality of sleep by helping one sleep longer and sounder at night.
Walking has the biggest effect on the time it takes to fall asleep. The only thing to be mindful of is that the walking should be done 3 hours before the time of sleep.
Endurance exercise like moderate intensity walking may regulate the telomeres in old age, and result in slowing the aging process by maintaining telomere length.
Telomeres are associated with the physical aging process and serve as important biological markers of aging. This might have clinical significance in relation to longevity and mitigate some of the effects of aging.
Lifetime leisure exercise like moderate intensity walking has been positively associated with the improved bone mineral density of the total hip and hip components, and a borderline-significant association with spine bone mineral density.
What this implies is that walking might help you prevent bone loss associated with old age and help maintain good bone health in old age.
6. Relief Chronic Pain
Even if the underlying condition remains uncured moderate intensity walking has been shown to improve chronic pain in both short term as well long term.
The pain relief benefits of walking may not be able to cure chronic pain, but it can help you deal with it better.
7. Control Diabetes
The effects of walking (as opposed to general physical activity) have been most researched in relation to Type 2 Diabetes.
Walking effectively controls fasting and post‐walk blood‐sugar levels.
Walking has been shown to reduce significantly the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and it has been shown to decrease mortality from all causes in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Walking for at least two hours reduced one death per year from all causes in every 61 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
8. Prevention of Cancer
There is little research on the specific benefits of walking on cancer prevention.
However, studies have shown that there is a significant risk reduction in breast cancer of 20-40% for those who do the moderate physical activity of 30-60 min, 5 days each week.
Similarly, active people are at 30% lower risk than others in relation to the development of colon cancer.
It is presumed these benefits should also be achievable with moderate intensity walking.
9. Mentation the Body Weight
Regular Walking can help prevent weight gain over the long-term by burning calories.
In order to calculate the number of calories burned while walking a mile at casual walking speed (2mph), multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.49, and for brisk walking (3.5mph) multiply it by 0.57.
HOW TO INCORPORATE WALKING IN YOUR ROUTINE?
Now we know the benefits of walking, we will provide a few guidelines on how much should one walk to get these benefits.
Moderate‐intensity walking is defined as at least 100 steps per minute, equivalent to approximately 3,000 steps per half hour. You can assess your activity levels by these pedometer‐determined physical‐activity thresholds.
< 2,500 steps/day (sedentary – basal activity)
2,500–4,999 steps/day (limited activity)
5,000–7,499 steps/day (low active)
7,500–9,999 steps/day (somewhat active)
10,000–12,499 steps/day (active)
≥12,500 steps/day (highly active)
A simple rule of thumb for assessing the levels of physical activity has been described by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the “Talk Test”.
Talk test indicates that while you are involved in the moderate‐intensity activity, you can talk, but not sing, during the activity.
While when you are doing a vigorous‐intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without for a breath.
Central to a regular walking program is scheduling dedicated time into your day to walk. This time can be planned in one chunk of 20-60 minutes at a time or in several chunks of 10-minute increments.
Invest in shoes that support your feet, knees, and hips. Maintain proper walking posture to ensure safety and efficacy.
What is Proper Walking posture?
Upper Body: Stand tall and imagine a rope pulling the crown of your head up towards the sky.
Relax your shoulders down and away from your ears as your fingertips gently reach towards the ground.
Hold your chest high and your shoulders back, down and relaxed. Keep head up with chin level as you gaze ahead and not at the ground.
Arms: Move arms freely and relax your hands so as to release tension. Hold thumb to pointer finger together.
Arms should be bent, slightly less than 90 degrees and they should be moved from front to back, and not side to side. Take care to not swing elbows higher than your breastbone.
Legs: Always push off with toes and concentrate on landing on your heel.
Use the natural spring of your calf muscles to propel you forward. Don’t elongate your steps if you want to go faster, take smaller faster steps.
Breathe naturally taking deep rhythmic breaths to get the maximum amount of oxygen into your system.
HAPPY WALKING & STAY HEALTHY FOREVER!