What are the benefits of long walks?

Walking is one of those low-intensity exercises that come with a lot of benefits, ranging from stress relief to improved creativity and better mental health to physical fitness. Walking does wonders for the health of people of all ages. Just 30 minutes of walk can improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscles and bones and reduce body fat. It also decreases the risk of many diseases including diabetes and cancer.

Walking requires minimum equipment and can be performed anywhere and at any time of the day. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and even that is not an absolute necessity. If you are not into any other form of physical activity, you can simply add this low-intensity exercise to your fitness regime.

  • Aids in Burning Calories

Walking helps in burning calories which helps you lose weight. Harvard medical school research, walking for Health, studied the effect of 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to the body weight. They discovered, in the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

Another study from the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, published in 2017 in the International Journal of Obesity shows that those who took 15,000 or more steps per day tended to have lower BMIs, which is one of the indicators of obesity

  • Prevents Heart Disease

Walking 30 minutes daily can prevent a variety of heart diseases. Walking on a daily basis boosts cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness.

A study done by the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Australia, shows that approximately 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week can reduce 19% chances of having heart disease. The meta-analysis showed that the risk of developing CHD decreases as walking duration increases. The research says that walking should be prescribed as an evidence-based effective exercise modality for CHD prevention in the general population.

  • Improves Blood Circulation

Walking not only helps you achieve your desired weight. It also improves your blood circulation and regulates flow of blood to your brain. It supplements your brain cells with the required amounts of oxygen and glucose that helps it function better.

Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) found in a study, that the foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries. These waves result in increasing the supply of blood to the brain. Walking also improves your brain health by reducing your risk of developing cognitive illnesses such as Dementia.

  • Stronger Muscles

If your fitness goals include toned legs, then walking is the best exercise for you. It strengthens and tones the muscles of limbs and prevents muscle loss. If a person spends a lot of time reclining or lying down, his muscles will not be strong enough stand long-distance walks. 30 minute of regular walking results in increased muscle strength and endurance.

According to a research done by M. K. Sharma, A Holistic Approach to Arthritis and Management of Chronic Pain, regular walking strengthen legs and back muscles.

  • Improves Digestion and Metabolism

Regular morning walks improve digestion and metabolism. Improper digestion can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or even colon cancer. So, it is very important to keep your digestive system healthy.

According to a research done by Yasuyo Hijikata and Seika Yamada in 2011, walking right after having a meal is more effective for weight loss than waiting an hour to head out to walk. For the people who do not experience abdominal pains, fatigue, or other discomforts while walking right after a meal should indulge in 30 minutes of brisk walking to boost their metabolism and gut health.

  • Lower Stress and Uplifts Mood

Walking produces endorphins that help improve your mental state. If you are having a bad day walking can uplift your mood, especially outdoors. Studies show that it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and bad mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal. Science says walking is one of the fastest, most effective ways to calm down your nerves.

Another research by the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Toronto, Canada in November 2013 shows that from a population health perspective, promoting physical activity may serve as a valuable mental health promotion strategy as it prevents the development of depression.