You know exercise is good for you. But did you know you don’t have to end your exercise session dripping with sweat to see benefits?
A simple daily walk can have a big positive effect on many aspects of your health.
Walking is great for everything from building bone density to improving your sleep quality. Even better, it’s movement many people can do every day.
For everyone that can, here are 11 reasons to get outside and walk today.
1. It improves your balance.
After 50, our risk of falling and getting injured increases.
Regular walking helps strengthen the muscles necessary to prevent falls and subsequent injury.
In one study, walking was even better than balance training at preventing falls.
(If you’re already at high risk of falling, be sure to check with your doctor first.)
2. It boosts brainpower.
Your brain is a large organ that requires a lot of blood flow to perform its best. Regular exercise, including brisk walking, can help boost blood flow to the brain.
That can help with a host of brain-related functions, including memory, concentration, focus and creativity.
3. It helps you sleep.
The connection between moving more and sleeping better is well established. Studies show that getting more steps every day improves both the duration and quality of your sleep—which means you’ll sleep longer and more restfully.
4. It’s good for your bones.
Osteoporosis, a disease in which bone production doesn’t keep up with normal bone destruction, affects nearly 20% of women by age 50. By age 80, 70% of women are affected.
Resistance and weight-bearing exercise, including walking, can help increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
5. It costs nothing.
Unlike a lot of other forms of exercise, walking costs nothing and requires no skill or special equipment other than a pair of shoes. You can walk in your neighborhood, around your home or yard, at a mall, school track or other public space.
6. It improves mood.
Walking (and other forms of exercise) boosts mood through increased blood flow and the release of “feel-good” hormones, including endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.
Together, these hormones help regulate your mood. Regular exercise may even help lessen depression and anxiety.
7. It’s a great social activity.
Meeting with friends for a walk around the neighborhood is the social equivalent of consuming a superfood!
Going on a walk with someone else boosts all the benefits you get from both exercise and social interactions. You may also find more time to hang out with friends when you multitask.
8. It’s good for your cardiovascular system.
Walking gets your blood flowing in gentle ways that are great for your entire cardiovascular system.
Cardio exercise, including walking, strengthens both the heart and lungs. Brisk walking (3 MPH or faster) can even lower your risk of stroke by up to 37%.
9. It improves digestion.
Studies show that a comfortable 10-minute walk after eating improves digestion and reduces constipation, gas and bloating.
10. It boosts your immune system.
Walking doesn’t just get your blood flowing, it gets everything moving better, including your white blood cells—the cells responsible for fighting off infection.
Walking also strengthens antibodies and reduces inflammation throughout your whole body.
11. It’s good for your joints.
Perhaps counterintuitively, low-impact exercise, like walking, helps lubricate your joints by increasing blood flow to cartilage and the flow of synovial fluid—the fluid that cushions your joints.
That can reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness, and increase your range of motion.
Do you enjoy walking? Share your favorite form of exercise in the comments below.