Everywhere you look, someone is weightlifting, running, doing CrossFit, yoga, bootcamps, cycling, and the list goes on. However, it seems that we underestimate, underutilize, and overlook walking as a powerful tool at our disposal for improving our health and staying active. When we say walking, perhaps the image of an elderly couple strolling on a sidewalk comes to mind or friends leisurely walking as they sip some coffee and catch up on the day’s events. But, walking has incredible benefits that many have never explored or even considered. Yes, today we want to get active and strong by sometimes doing the most physically intense and demanding exercises and so when we examine a workout regimen to undertake, walking does not even enter the equation. Let’s change that today by looking at some of the valuable attributes of this form of activity.

First, how simple is it that walking is free and easy/open to all? – all ages, all levels of fitness and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes that gives comfort and support! Around your neighborhood, in a park, running tracks, hiking trails, the possibilities are endless where you can take up this activity. So, now that we know it’s free to all (yay) and can be done basically anywhere, let’s talk about why we should consider walking more.

Walking improves your mood and boosts your energy! Oh yes! When we walk, we increase the amount of oxygen flowing in our blood as well as the amounts of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine which increases our energy. No more lethargy! Additionally, walking has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety and thus gives a mental health boost.

Of critical importance, walking has been shown to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer! A study done by the American Cancer Society has shown that women who walk seven or more hours a week had a 14% reduced rate of developing breast cancer.

And of course, walking burns calories. Depending on the intensity and distance, it varies. If calorie burn is a goal, try power walking and even utilizing areas with a slight incline for more of a challenge. There are many people who use walking as one of their main forms of physical activity, simply because it’s extremely accessible, easy to get started and you can vary the intensity based on how you feel. Even at a moderate or slower pace, you will be reaping many rewards.

Last, walking improves your immune function, making it less likely for you to develop colds etc. during the flu season as well as shortening the period of illness. Incorporating some walking after meals can also help to lower blood sugar levels. Important to note as well is that walking can reduce joint pains as it tends to strengthen the muscles supporting the hip and knees as well as lubricating them.

So, the next time you think of writing off walking, remember some of these benefits. No matter where you are, add an extra 5 minutes of walking to your day – take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk after your lunch, or add 20-30mins of walking on the weekend.  Your body will thank you. Till next time…

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