Even though we usually think of walking as a leisurely activity, or don’t equate it to having a serious impact on our quality of life- time and time again research tells us that the simple act of walking for exercise proves to have some incredible health benefits.
Walking for your body:
Maybe you wish you could take up running but your joints just don’t allow for it. That’s okay! Studies show that walking at a moderate pace, and running at an intense pace have very similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Your health improves in the same ways by spending your time walking instead.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study that showed that people who stuck to a walking program showed great improvement in blood pressure, slowing of resting heart rate, reduction of body fat, reduced cholesterol, improved depression scores, and increased measures of endurance.
Walking for your mind:
Walking not only impacts physical health, but also improves our mental health as well. One study found that in as little as 12 minutes, walking impacted our self confidence, vigor and attentiveness. Compared to 12 minutes of sitting, mental health improves greatly with this simple act. If you want to even further the benefits, experts say walking in nature will decrease levels of depression and help you to not ruminate over negative thoughts.
If you’re dealing with anxiety, studies show that as little as 10 minutes of walking can be just as good as a 45 minute work out at reducing your anxiety levels, and improving your mood. A small price to pay for a big return.
If you are a business owner, a student, or a creative person in general, you might like to learn that one Standford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent. They labeled this “divergent thinking,” which is the thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possibilities. According to this study, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity.” Again, a small price to pay for a big return!
Overall, you shouldn’t sleep on this simple form of exercise. Whether you want to improve your heart health, your mood, or have some work/life epiphanies, this is for you! As a small time commitment that has huge benefits, walking is perfect for anyone and can be done virtually anywhere.