Walking outdoors is the most underrated form of exercise. In fact, it can improve or maintain your overall health as it has impressive mental and physical benefits. A major advantage: Walking is simple, free and does not require any special equipment or training. Therefore, it is one of the easiest ways to get active, lose weight and become healthier.
There is no doubt that running is more physically demanding than walking. However, walking is an excellent way to stay in shape and maintain your overall health. It is a form of low impact exercise, it is easier on the joints and can be done for longer periods of time. As such, walking can be very beneficial to people who suffer from a variety of ailments such as knee and back pain, and for those that suffer from obesity.
Walking: Exercise of choice for many people
Walking outside definitely has many positive effects, especially on people who are not properly trained or can’t do high impact workouts due to certain medical conditions. Just like jogging, walking burns calories – just at a correspondingly lower intensity.
A brisk walk of 30 minutes every day can make a big difference to your state of health. It increases cardiovascular fitness, strengthens bones, reduces excess body fat, and improves muscle power as well as endurance. It may also reduce the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis or certain kinds of cancer.
Another important factor is the daylight: If you walk for 15 to 20 minutes during your lunch break, you can replenish your vitamin D stores, strengthen your immune system and it can even balance your hormones. Another advantage of getting fresh air is that oxygen levels outside are generally higher than during indoor activities. When we breathe deeply during exercise, it boosts the energy power plants in our cells – and our organs as well. Furthermore, oxygen is crucial for maintaining healthy brain functioning, growth, and healing. Thus, going for walks on a daily base may prevent for memory loss and dementia.
A booster for mental health
Especially in stressful times with demanding schedules, exercise and balance are more important than ever. Exercise of any kind signals the body to release endorphins, which improve the mood, trigger positive feelings and increase creativity. Research has also shown that regular walks improve your nervous system, leading to decreased levels of anger and hostility. Walking in nature can help to reduce tension, stress and even depression.
Make walking a habit
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. There are many ways to include walking in your daily routine e.g.:
- Try to take a walk at the same time each day
- Make walking part of your journey to work
- Walk to the local shops
- Walk the kids to school
- Use stairs instead of the elevator
- Do a regular walk with a friend
- Going for a stroll after dinner
- Walk your or the neighbor’s dog
* You should always see a doctor for a medical check-up before starting any new fitness program, particularly if you are aged over 40 years, are overweight or haven’t exercised in a long time.