Last Updated on September 21, 2021 by Femniqe Editorial
Walking is a great form of exercise that can be done nearly anywhere.
With just a simple pair of shoes, anyone can enjoy the many benefits of walking.
Everyone knows the benefits of regular exercise, such as strengthening muscles and bones and improving heart health, but few people realize how beneficial walking can be on top of those common benefits. The following list details some less-obvious benefits that walking has to offer:
1) Increases Energy
Walking after a meal or during breaks from work can increase your overall energy level(1) and keep you sharp and focused on whatever needs to be done.
Regular walks will help you remain productive all day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes at a time throughout the day.
2) Reduces Stress
Walking has a calming effect on the body that reduces stress and leads to greater mental clarity.
Walking is also an easy way to remove yourself from stressful situations, allowing you some time alone in your thoughts.
3) Improves Mood
Taking a walk when feeling sad, angry or stressed can help improve mood and alleviate negative feelings(2).
In addition, walking regularly will make you feel happier overall by increasing serotonin levels in the brain and countering depression-related chemicals in the bloodstream.
4) Can Improve Sleep Quality
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try taking a 30 minute walk during daylight hours (before dinner is preferable).
A recent study showed that nighttime sleep quality improved when people with insomnia engaged in moderate walking.
Now, walking before bedtime does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to sleep, but exercise in general can make it easier for some people to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
5) Increases Energy Consumed During the Day
Walking increases energy expenditure during the day by about 4 percent beyond normal caloric usage. This means that if a person burns 1800 calories at rest, they burn an additional 60-70 calories from walking 3 miles (4.8 km).
6) Improves Overall Fitness Level
By increasing your cardiovascular fitness through frequent walks, you will have more strength and endurance for other activities such as sports and work tasks.
In addition to strengthening muscles and bones, walking is a great way to improve overall fitness and health.
7) Promotes Healthier Eating Habits
Walking for a half hour or more can reduce strong cravings for unhealthy snacks such as candy, cookies and chips because of the hormonal changes that occur from being more active.
In addition to decreased appetite, walking after meals tends to increase feelings of fullness, making you less likely to overeat at future meals.
8) May Help Prevent Diabetes
A study showed that people who walked at least 21 miles per week had a 49 percent lower risk of developing diabetes compared with those who did not walk regularly(3).
Another study found that men who were physically inactive were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who exercised lightly to moderately.
Regularly walking can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes or keep it from getting worse if you already have it.
9) Reduces Risk for Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one global cause of death, but regular walking can decrease this risk by about 30 percent.
In addition, walking does not put excess pressure on joints and muscles like high-impact exercises such as jogging do. Walking regularly will also help prevent blood clots that cause heart attacks in some people.
10) Lowers Blood Pressure
Walking at a moderate pace can improve overall cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure levels in the body.
The American Heart Association recommends walking 5 days per week for 30 minutes to decrease hypertension and increase cardiovascular fitness.
11) Promotes Weight Loss
Walking is an excellent exercise to help promote weight loss.
In fact, walking just one mile can burn 100 calories depending on your body mass and the speed you walk at. If you want to lose a pound per week, you would need to walk about 4 miles per day at a moderate pace (3 mph).
12) Increases Bone Density and Prevents Osteoporosis
The impact of walking increases bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis as we age.
This reduced risk of developing osteoporosis may also increase the quality of life for those affected with this disease as it progresses.
13) Reduces Risk for Some Cancers
Research suggests that women who walk 6 hours or more per week have a lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who are less active.
Walking at least 4 hours per week also lowered the risk of dying from ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women by half when compared with not walking.
Additionally, it is possible that walking may protect against uterine and endometrial cancers.
14) Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Walking can relieve stress and anxiety and promote overall well-being through its effects on the brain.
The American Psychological Association says that exercise like brisk walking, because it releases neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) can reduce depression and offer a “natural high.”
15) Provides Fresh Air
If you live in an urban area where there is air pollution, walking for an hour or more each day can improve your overall respiratory health by filtering harmful pollutants from the air.
Making time to walk outdoors also allows you to enjoy nature and get a breath of fresh air.
16) Fosters Friendships
Walking encourages socialization because it is a great way to converse freely while getting some cardiovascular exercise at the same time.
In fact, walking with a friend can decrease the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 35 percent, plus you get to a chance to spend quality time together.
17) Prevents Depression and Helps Treat It if You Have it
One study looked at the effects of physical activity on people who had major depressive disorder (MDD). Results showed that regular aerobic exercise reduced depressive symptoms in comparison to participants who were not physically active.
Walking specifically has also been found to help treat depression during pregnancy.
Another study demonstrated that depressed adults without significant medical or psychological problems experienced improvements in their mood, self-esteem, insomnia, concentration, energy level and appetite when they walked outdoors for an hour each day regardless of weather conditions.
18) Improves Functional Ability for People Over 65 Years Old
It is important to bear in mind that age alone does not reduce your capacity for exercise.
Physical activity is recommended for people over 65 years old to improve quality of life and functional ability.
Walking 4 days per week at 30 minutes per day has been shown to increase functional ability, decrease falls among adults with osteoporosis or low bone density, lower the risk of disabilities due to physical health problems, improve cardiovascular health and decrease blood pressure.
Additionally, it can help prevent some chronic diseases while improving social activities and mental well-being.
19) Keeps Muscles Strong Needed for Daily Tasks
Walking can serve as a form of strength training by helping develop muscles that are needed to perform tasks that are carried out on a daily basis.
For instance, walking helps build and strengthen leg muscles that play a crucial role in posture and coordination. Walking can also improve balance and flexibility needed to withstand daily activities like shopping, cooking and showering.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your sneakers because it is never too late to start walking!
Get out the door right now because every step counts towards improving your quality of life.
Walk around the neighborhood, take long walks with friends, go on nature trails or simply walk around while at work. The more time you spend walking each week, the greater health benefits you will receive for yourself (and those around you).