Many people brush off the importance of walking, especially when comparing it to more intense activities like running or CrossFit. However, it’s important to remember that intensity isn’t the only aspect of a workout that matters. An easier form of exercise is less likely to cause injury, and is less intimidating or frustrating for beginners – and remember, the workout you actually do is always better than the one you don’t do.
The bottom line is this: Walking is something that nearly everyone can do, and it has many surprising benefits.
1: Walking Lowers Blood Pressure
Walking raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. This is the very definition of a cardio workout. So many people discount walking as “real” cardio because it’s less demanding than other forms of exercise. Studies show, however, that this is a mistaken mindset, and that people who walk for just 30 minutes a day have healthier blood pressure and are less likely to need medication.
2: Walking Maintains Weight
Women who walk for one hour a day are less likely to experience weight fluctuations. Light cardio, when undertaken regularly and paired with a healthy diet, can prevent excessive weight gain. Many people hop on the treadmill and try to run off the extra pounds, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, they may be punishing themselves (and their joints) more harshly than they need.
So walking’s a great low impact workout that can also effectively manage your weight.
3: Walking Can Ease Pain
If you’ve ever seen a physical therapist, you probably already know that a lot of their treatments are movement based. Rather than putting their patients in traction, these therapists will use movement to promote recovery because it helps to rebuild muscle mass and increase range of motion.
Walking is its own form of physical therapy. Low impact activity is easy on your joints, but at the same time, the sustained movement is great for both joints and muscles. Also, because you use your whole body when walking, it can help to address pain or discomfort anywhere.
4: Walking Can Help Get You Some Vitamin D
If you’re the kind of person who begins to feel bluesy and lethargic as the days get shorter, you may be experiencing a lack of vitamin D. As adults, the only ways we can get vitamin D are either through supplements, or by simply being out in the sun. Even winter sun and overcast days can expose you to enough vitamin D to boost your mood and energy levels.
But remember your sunscreen! Although it will prevent you from absorbing some vitamin D, sunscreen will protect your skin against harmful radiation.
5: Walking Can Lower Blood Sugar
Walking for 20–30 minutes a day can help lower your blood sugar for up to 24 hours. Combine that with the weight loss associated with regular exercise, and walking can be a very healthy activity for diabetics.
Your workout doesn’t have to be intense in order for you to experience tremendous health results. You can go for a walk right now and begin feeling the benefits for yourself!