Opposite to what many people may think, being physically active is not necessarily complicated and it is not just good for your physical health, but it can be the ideal medicine for the brain too. Namely, a simple walk on a daily basis can help you keep a healthy weight, avert heart problems and type 2 diabetes, strengthen the muscles and bones, and enhance your mood, balance and coordination, thinking, and memory.
The Major Benefits of Walking
- Reduced risk of chronic illnesses
According to the American Diabetes Association, walking can decrease the levels of sugar in the blood and thus, minimize the chance for diabetes. A study from 2002 showed that participants who met the guidelines for physical activities had a 30 percent smaller risk of cardiovascular illnesses when compared to those who did not walk frequently.
- Healthy and beautiful legs
As Meghan Rabbitt explains, with age comes a higher risk of varicose veins. But, if you regularly walk, you will avert the appearance of these unpleasant lines. This is because walking makes the secondary circulatory system (comprised of muscles, veins, and valves in the calf and foot and it pushes blood up to the heart and lungs) stronger by preserving leg muscle, which results in a better blood flow and toned legs. People who already have this health problem can decrease the swelling and discomfort in the legs by introducing a 30-minute daily walk, Rabbitt also adds.
- Regular bowel movements
Morning walks can be more helpful in bettering your gastric mobility than a cup of coffee. Movement is known to utilize the abdominal muscles and core and to keep the gastrointestinal tract going.
- Weight loss
As explained on Prevention, introducing daily walking to your life can help you lower your waist circumference. This is a result from the improved response of your body to insulin, which in turn decreases belly fat. Walking will get the fat moving and speed up the metabolism by burning calories and averting loss of muscles, which is crucial as we age.
- Decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s
As noted on Cheshire Med, a study showed that older men who walked more than 2 miles on a daily basis had a 50 percent lesser chance of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia when compared to the group which walked less than a quarter of mile.
- Boosts the balance and coordination
As explained by Harvard Health Publishing, balance and coordination can deteriorate as we age. This issue can be additionally complicated by specific meds and health issues, as well as vision problems and insufficient flexibility. Unfortunately, poor balance and coordination are linked to falls, which may lead to head and other type of injuries like hip fractures. This is where walking can help. It will make the lower body part stronger and thus improve the balance and help you feel more comfortable when you walk.
- Quality sleep
Research indicates that getting a good night’s rest without waking up in the middle of the night can be achieved with the help of a brisk walk before noon.
- Better mood
David DiSalvo asserts that a recent study has shown that only 12 minutes of daily walking elevated the vigor, attention, self-confidence, and cheerfulness in college students more than in those who spent the same time sitting.
- Higher creativity
A study conducted by Stanford University showed that walking raised creative inspiration by 60 percent when compared to sitting. Moreover, the improvement was specific to divergent thinking or the thought process for generating creative ideas through the exploration of different potential solutions.
- Stronger working memory
Hitting the sidewalk is always a good idea to sharpen your memory and this is backed up by a study during which the participants’ working memory on challenging tasks enhanced when they were allowed to walk at their own steady pace as opposed to those who needed to walk at a slower pace.
The Important Elements of Walking Properly
In order to benefit the most from walking, you need to adopt a good posture and perform adequate movements. As emphasized on Mayo Clinic, take these couple of advice into consideration:
- Keep the head up and straight and look in front of you, not in the ground
- Make sure your neck, back, and shoulders are relaxed
- Swing the arms at the sides lightly
- Keep the back straight and tighten the stomach muscles a bit
- Walk smoothly; roll the foot from the heel to toe
Other Crucial Aspects of Walking
When you decide to implement a walking routine your life and to be able to get the most out of it, it is always a good idea to:
- Get the adequate gear
When you walk, as emphasized on Mayo Clinic, we need to wear comfy shoes that will support the arch and they need to have firm heel and thick soles for shock absorption and feet support. What’s more, you need to adjust your clothes according to the weather; for example, when you decide to go for a brisk walk in the park in the evening, make sure you opt for brighter colors or carry a reflective tape for higher visibility.
- Warm up
Before you head out for your morning or evening walk, prepare your body for the upcoming physical activity by warming it up with some light exercises.
- Choose appropriate terrains
According to Mayo Clinic, when taking outdoor walks, avoid areas with cracked sidewalks, potholes, and uneven turfs for optimal safety.
- Cool down and stretch
When you are done with your walk, cool down the body by walking slower for 5 minutes. And, after you have cooled down, stretch the muscles gently.
Final Thoughts on Walking
Without doubt, science has shown that walking is not just favorable for reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart problems and type 2 diabetes, but it is also food for the brain. Namely, this physical activity is one of the best and most natural ways to boost your creativity levels, enhance your working memory, and increase your self-confidence, overall satisfaction with life, and attention span. However, in order to reap the most benefits from walking, you need to learn the right posture for this activity, put on the appropriate shoes and clothes, and stretch prior to and after walking.