We've all heard that there are health benefits of walking, but it may improve your health in more ways than you'd expect, not to mention it gets you out in your community.

Walking offers numerous benefits to people of all ages, no matter your fitness level. The great thing about walking is that it doesn't have to be strenuous or aggressive. Vigorous walking doesn't mean you're going to improve your health more than walking at a lower level. Just get out and do it! Walking is a lower-impact form of exercise that doesn't require any equipment other than a pair of shoes, unless you prefer barefoot walking, which some can find beneficial as well.

In the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walking is "the closest thing we have to a wonder drug", which makes it stand out as possibly the most perfect exercise.

Benefits of Walking Daily

1. Improves Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. each year with almost 700,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC. Walking improves circulation, which helps prevent heart disease. It increases your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens your heart. By walking 2.5 hours a week, or 21 minutes a day, you can cut your risk of heart disease by 30% according to a Harvard Health report. If you're looking for a free way to improve heart health, look no further than walking.

2. Lower Risks of Diabetes

By walking 30 minutes a day, your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels go down, which can help prevent and control diabetes. According to Harvard Health, exercise lowered HbA1c values by 0.7 percentage points in people of different ethnic groups with diabetes, even though they didn't lose weight. Women with diabetes who spend at least 4 hours each week walking (or moderate to vigorous exercise) had a 40% lower risk of developing heart disease than those who didn't exercise. Blood sugar can spike after eating, but light walking after meals can reduce your blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Lighten the Mood

Walking releases brain chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins stimulate relaxation and improve your mood and reduce your reception of pain and act as analgesics and sedatives. Regular exercise like walking proves to reduce stress, reduce anxiety and feelings of depression, improve your sleep, and boost your self-esteem. In essence, the more steps each day that you take, the better your mood will be.

4. A Better Community

Walking can help you socialize with people in your community and can contribute to a greater sense of belonging, which increases connected wellness. The more people that get out and walk the more neighborhood crime rates may fall and the local economy improves. Walking in your community helps build friendships, which helps improve and support positive mental health for everyone involved. Walking in your community has the added advantage of connecting you to nature and all that Caswell County, NC has to offer, which has a restorative effect on your well-being and improves your sense of connection.

5. Extend Your Life

Research finds that f you walk regularly in your fifties and sixties, you can improve your life expectancy by 35% over the next eight years compared to those who do not walk regularly. That percentage increases to 45% for those who have underlying health conditions.

More benefits

The benefits of walking don't stop there. By walking regularly, you can:

  • Support your joints
  • Lower risks of Alzheimer's
  • Improve your breath
  • Improve your sleep
  • Strengthen your muscles
  • Lose weight and inches
  • Improve your bones
  • Creative thinking

Take time to get out and walk, or stay inside and walk on a treadmill. If it's been a while since you've had any physical activity, talk to your doctor prior to taking on any new fitness routine, including walking, especially if you are over 40 or overweight.

To get started walking, choose a walking trail or route that is close to home. Caswell County has plenty of places to walk, including the new Milton Heritage Greenway & Walking Trails. Find a friend who can walk with you, which can be a great way to hold you accountable. Park farther away than you usually would from your place of work, grocery store, or retail store so you can get extra steps in. Remember that walking is a great way to get your daily exercise for people of all ages.

About the Author

By caswellrdf / Administrator, bbp_keymaster on Sep 30, 2022