Benefits of Walking: 6 Reasons To Take a Walk
Monday, 9 July 2018
With summer practically begging us to spend as much time outdoors as we possibly can, finding a great way to get some exercise and improve your health shouldn't be too difficult. Whether you're trying to lose a few pounds, get in better shape or simply do your future self a big favour, walking is one of the best options out there.
It's cheap, easy to pick up regardless of your current shape, fun and great not only for your physical, but mental and emotional health as well. But before we dig deep into all the amazing benefits of walking, it's necessary to get one common question out of the way.
How Many Steps per Day Should You Take?
So, you're determined to incorporate a walk into your daily routine? Excellent, now the next step is to set an ambitious yet achievable goal. A well-known recommendation you've probably already heard of is that you need to take 10,000 steps per day. This is actually a completely arbitrary number created by a pedometer company in the 1960s because it had a nice ring to it, but nonetheless it's still true to a certain degree.
Getting a more accurate recommendation includes not only the number of steps you should take, but other factors, such as gender, age, physical health and your average pace as well. Research by Catrine Tudor-Locke established the following categories for healthy adults based on their recorded number of steps per day:
Your personal walking goal should be based on your usual baseline plus an additional 2000 to 4000 extra steps per day. The ultimate goal, of course, is to get to that last category, which means that regardless of where you start, you should slowly increase the number of steps per day to get over 12,500. The easiest way to count steps is with the help of a pedometer, or even your smartphone that you carry with you throughout the day.
Burns Those Extra Calories
Burning more calories is the first thing that comes to mind with any physical activity, and walking is no exception. The actual amount of calories you can burn while walking depends on how much you weigh and how fast you walk, and it ranges from 90 calories per 30 minutes, to well over 300 calories in the same amount of time. If you weigh 11 stone (70kg) and walk at a 3 mph pace (20 minutes per mile), you can burn approximately 120 calories in half an hour.
Gets Rid of Belly Fat
Burning more calories than you're used to can indeed lead to eventual weight loss, but this isn't what we have in mind here. When you start to walk, your pants might begin to feel a bit looser, with the number on the scale staying pretty much the same. This is because regular walking can improve you body's response to insulin, which can help reduce that stubborn belly fat.
Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease
Regular walking can lower both blood sugar levels and blood pressure, greatly reducing the risks of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Getting your heartbeat up for just 30 minutes a day can do miracles for your current and future overall health.
Increases Your Lung Capacity
As with any exercise, walking causes you to breathe in more oxygen as compared to when you are stationary. An exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at a larger volume can eventually lead to increased lung capacity, stamina and overall performance.
Prevents Varicose Veins from Developing
The system of muscles, veins and valves located in our calves and feet pushes blood back up to the heart and lungs. Walking strengthens your leg muscles, consequently strengthening and improving the circulatory system in your feet as well, which can minimise the chances of developing varicose veins. Even if you already have varicose veins, regular walking can help ease related swelling, discomfort and restlessness in your legs.
Boosts Your Happiness Levels
Taking a brisk walk, especially in the great outdoors, can instantly improve your mood, reduce stress and boost your creativity. Walking allows you to get out of your own head, observe the environment around you and reconnect with your physical body. Once the blood gets pumping, you'll likely feel more alive, clear-headed and able to solve that problem that's been stressing you out for days.
What Do You Need To Start Walking?
One of the best things about walking is that it's free and doesn't require any kind of preparation. If you want to make your walks as pleasant and efficient as possible, however, there are a few items that can make that happen: