10 Reasons Why Walking is the Most Underrated Exercise
January 16, 2022
Americans do not appreciate the benefits of walking.
It’s free, requires no special equipment, and most people can get started immediately. Walking can help you lose weight, strengthen your heart, and relieve stress. Most importantly, it’s a convenient way to exercise. You can walk anywhere. And it’s easy to squeeze a walk into the busiest of days.
Studies show that a brisk, 30-minute walk five days a week can help you live a longer, healthier life. Walks increase physical stamina and help to prevent serious problems down the road.
The benefits of walking are clear:
- It Burns Calories
You can burn enough calories to lose weight if you walk fast enough and far enough. For example, a 155-pound person burns about 267 calories walking at a moderate (3.5 miles per hour) pace on a flat surface for one hour. That same person could burn up to 439 calories an hour hiking a mountain trail while wearing a backpack. Since there are roughly 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat, taking brisk walks – without any changes in your diet – can help you drop as much as a pound a week!
- It Strengthens the Heart
Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for heart disease by about 19%. You may reduce your risk even more if you spend more time walking or walk farther each day.
- It Can Reduce Blood Sugar
Taking a short walk after eating may help lower your blood sugar. One study found that taking a 15-minute walk three times a day – after breakfast, lunch, and dinner – improved blood sugar levels more than walking for 45 minutes at other times of the day.
- It Can Alleviate Joint Pain
Walking can help protect your knees, hips, and other joints because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support them. Walking also may benefit people living with arthritis, by helping to reduce pain. And walking 5 to 6 miles a week may also help prevent arthritis.
- It Boosts Immune Function
Walking may reduce your risk of catching a cold or getting the flu. One study found that adults who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day had 43% fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections overall. Plus, if they did get sick, their symptoms were milder than those of sedentary adults.
- It Increases Energy
Going for a walk when you’re tired may give you more of an energy boost than grabbing a cup of coffee. Walking increases oxygen flow through the body. It can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, the hormones that elevate energy levels.
- It Reduces Cancer Risk
An American Cancer Society study found that going for regular walks – even if they don’t meet the recommended 150 minutes a week – can significantly reduce cancer risks in both men and women.
- It Can Improve Mood
Walking can help your mental health. Studies show walking can help reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods. It can also improve self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.
- It Helps Control a Sweet Tooth
A British study found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat when you’re stressed. Walking can also reduce cravings and intake of other sugary snacks.
- It May Make You More Creative
One study found people were more creative thinkers while walking, particularly outdoors. Researchers concluded that walking opens up a free flow of ideas.
Get the Care You Need
Ready to take the next step for a healthier life? Grady can help. If you need a primary care physician, give us a call at (404) 616-1000. We’ll arrange an appointment at a Primary Care Center near you. Doctors there can treat most conditions and provide access to Grady’s unparalleled medical specialty expertise.