Walking Health Benefits: 10 Ways You'll Feel the Difference


The last several years have shifted exercise culture worldwide, including people's relationship with walking.

Millions continue to prioritize the daily strolls they established when gyms and fitness studios first closed their doors. While it may be having a resurgence in popularity, walking has always had significant health benefits. With innovative new technology like that found in Baliston shoes which helps improve your walking technique to reduce fatigue, ease pain, and prevent injury, the impact of consistent walking can be even more positive. Whether you walk for exercise, your commute, or to clear your head, here are ten health benefits of getting your steps in.

Stress Relief

Walking for even a few minutes daily can significantly decrease stress levels. Not only does walking give you a chance to take a break from work or chores and get some time in the fresh air, but it also releases endorphins, a chemical produced during exercise that reduces stress. One study found that walking just 12 minutes a day increased subjects’ sense of joy, vigor, attentiveness, and self-confidence.

Managing stress is essential to maintaining robust physical health. Stress can impact your immune, digestive, and reproductive systems and even predispose you to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Your body needs to unwind and reset, and taking a walk might be just what the doctor ordered.

Pain Reduction

In addition to reducing stress, endorphins are your body’s natural pain relievers. When you walk, your body releases endorphins, which interact with receptors in your brain, reducing your perception of pain and increasing feelings of positivity and general well-being. Endorphins have been shown to have similar effects to morphine but without any harmful side effects or potential for addiction.

Even for people with chronic conditions or chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, walking can help manage pain and slow additional deterioration. Good walking habits like correct stride length and cadence, and proper arch support, can build muscles in your hips, legs, core, back, and around joints, helping to better support problem areas. Walking and moving your joints also increases blood flow and the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints, ultimately helping to alleviate joint pain and maintain range of motion.

Improved Posture

Mindful walking– meaning walking with attention to alignment and good walking habits– can do more than alleviate pain– it can also improve your posture. Keep your head up, spine long, shoulders back, down, and relaxed with your core engaged, allowing your arms to swing and your weight to distribute from your heel to your toes with each step. Walking in this way trains proper core recruitment, which means efficient, supportive activation of the muscles around your midsection that help you maintain verticality and coordinate and control your movements. Walking while focusing on posture can induce muscle growth, increase stamina, and improve flexibility. Of course, walking distance and average walking speed play a role here, too; you’ll need to walk consistently over longer distances with increased pace and proper alignment to notice positive changes in your posture.

Walking for Exercise

Walking for exercise is a great way to stay in shape. Even though activities like running recruit more muscles and exert more force, some experts argue that walking can provide an even better workout, especially for those with knee, ankle, back, or other joint problems or who are currently overweight. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done for longer periods without extreme stress or strain on joints. One study, which compared results from the National Runners’ and National Walkers’ Health Studies, found that moderate-to-intense walking and vigorous running produced similar effects, reducing subjects’ risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. And if weight loss is one of your health goals, adhering to a walking program is extremely effective at reducing body fat and keeping the pounds off.

Walking isn’t only an effective form of exercise for those who need to prioritize low-impact activity. Including walking even within a rigorous exercise regimen can yield significant fitness gains. Taking an energetic walk on rest days helps maintain endurance and increase blood flow to recovering muscles.

One of the great things about walking for fitness is that it allows you to go at your own pace; you can walk slowly and take breaks, or walk vigorously for a full, challenging workout. Walking for fitness requires no specialized skills– only a commitment to get moving, plus a supportive pair of shoes.

Improved Heart Health

Your heart is not simply an organ– it is a muscular organ, largely made up of muscular tissues that work in concert with other structures to keep you healthy, nourished, and alive. Like any muscle, your heart needs exercise to stay strong, and the way to give your heart a workout is to increase the rate at which it beats. A brisk walk is an extremely effective and safe way to increase your heart rate and improve your strength. Walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of high cholesterol. Cholesterol, fat in your blood that your body needs in healthy amounts, can build up too much and clog arteries, impairing heart function and potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. For some experts, walking is the front line for heart health. The activity is so effective at addressing the constellation of factors that influence heart function that studies suggest it can play a key role in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Lowered Blood Pressure

Healthy hearts and good blood pressure go hand-in-hand; when our hearts are strong, they can pump blood to the rest of our bodies with less effort. Thus, in addition to increasing heart strength, walking has the further benefit of lowering walkers’ blood pressure, addressing the “vascular” component of “cardiovascular” health. The science behind walking’s effectiveness at lowering blood pressure goes even further, with studies showing how the stretching of collagen, which occurs during aerobic exercise like walking, reduces the stiffness of blood vessels and arteries, allowing blood to flow more easily. For people looking to manage hypertension, or high blood pressure, walking just 40 minutes a day can help. Even if hypertension is not a current concern, walking is a great way to keep your heart happy and your blood flowing.

Improved Mental Health

Daily walks can not only work wonders for your physical health– but they can also support your mental health. Psychologists who study the effects of exercise on anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving symptoms of anxiety and boosting mood. Walking outside has been shown to be even more effective at managing stress and anxiety by reducing rumination over negative experiences, which has been associated with increased risks for depression.

The mental benefits of a walk extend even beyond issues of mental health. Walking has also been shown to prevent cognitive decline, improve memory and learning, and even boost creativity.

Increased Energy

Walking has been shown to increase your energy levels. This phenomenon is related to how walking can be a tool for stress relief– both stress and energy levels are tied to endorphins, which are released during physical activity. Since walking also increases your heart rate and improves blood flow, it helps deliver oxygen throughout your entire body, contributing to a boost in energy. Next time you’re experiencing a mid-day slump, try a walk instead of another cup of coffee– the endorphins walking releases and the increased oxygen in your blood, tissues, and organs can help you feel more energized than a double espresso shot.

Improved Sleep

Lower levels of stress and a bit of exercise can go a long way when it comes to getting your zzz's in. Including daily walks helps to increase your overall activity level, making it more likely that your body is ready for rest when the time comes. While taking an evening walk can be a great way to unwind after a busy day and get ready for sleep, an early morning walk can also help with your sleep cycle. Exposure to natural light helps to establish a strong circadian rhythm, which helps you get to sleep and stay asleep at the end of the day.

Being in Harmony With the Planet

One benefit of walking 2 miles daily is saving 2 miles worth of gas. But it’s not just about easing the impact of your commute or errand runs on your wallet– cutting back on gas also helps the environment. Walking is a carbon-free activity! Walking in nature is also an excellent opportunity to re-establish your connection with the environment, which will benefit your mental and physical well-being and inspire commitment to the well-being of the natural world.

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