Walking: how can something that seems so trivial be so beneficial to the body? It may feel like an unimportant task to most, but there are many benefits of walking everyday, both mental and physical. With COVID-19 looming and lockdowns intensifying, taking a walk around your neighbourhood each day will do wonders for your health.
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1. Walking benefits mental health: Taking a walk is a great way to clear your mind and step away from the stresses of work, school, life, etc. Walking can be used as a treatment to help relieve the effects of both anxiety and depression. Setting a regular walking schedule can also improve happiness and self-esteem.
2. It helps burn calories: Believe it or not, walking can be a great and healthy way to burn calories and lose weight! Walking is an excellent form of exercise, and it can do a lot to improve physical health. It both increases your metabolism by burning extra calories and helps build lean muscle.
3. Walking improves digestion: Moving your body after a meal is a great way to get your digestive system working, and walking is a fast and easy way to do so. Walking can stimulate your stomach and intestines, which speeds up the digestive process. Studies show that walking can also have a protective effect on the gastrointestinal system.
4. It may reduce risk of heart disease: Regular exercise has been shown to improve health by: lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Taking a 5 to 10 minute walk after each meal at least 5 days a week will help you meet regular exercising guidelines.
5. Walking will help you sleep better at night: In a study done by Sleep Health, walking was shown to improve the sleeping habits of healthy adults. The results of this study found that participants who averaged the most steps during the month reported better sleep quality than those who walked less. Even those who walked less than others reported better sleep quality than what they were getting before becoming participants in the study.
6. Walking boosts creativity: Taking a walk to clear your head is a great way to boost your creativity. In a Stanford University study, researchers found that when compared to sitting inside, participants who were taking a walk outside had increased their creative output by 60 percent.
7. It reduces the risk of diabetes: Out of all forms of exercising, walking is one of the most effective in combating the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Taking a walk after eating is a great way to prevent type 2 diabetes because it triggers muscle contractions right as sugar is entering the bloodstream.
8. Improves muscle strength: The best way to strengthen your muscles is to give them a workout! It is important that you strengthen, not strain, and walking is the perfect way to do so. It provides a great level of physical activity, but it is not too taxing on the muscles and body. It tones legs muscles, abdominal muscles, and can even help tone arm muscles if you pump them while you walk!
As you can see, walking has many benefits, so many that I couldn’t list them all here. Walking is a relatively easy form of exercise that can be incorporated into your everyday schedule with little disruptions. It is a great way to take a breather from work or wind down at the end of the day. I walk my dog around my neighbourhood every day before it gets dark, and it is always refreshing to get a breath of fresh air. I encourage you to develop a walking routine during lockdown, and continue to follow it in the coming months. It will do wonders for your physical and mental health!