What Are the Benefits of Walking Daily?
by Autumn Jones
Don't let the gentle nature of walking fool you — this is one fitness activity that can really go the distance! A short daily walk can not only benefit you mentally and emotionally, but your body will thank you for the low-impact workout, as well. It's also a great go-to exercise for almost anyone, regardless of where you are in your fitness journey.
Best of all, you don't have to be a power walker to enjoy the benefits of walking daily. Just sticking with the activity each day can boost your overall health. A walking routine is a simple way to start a fitness program that builds muscle and endurance (sans the heavy lifting) and it's easy to stick to, rain or shine. Here are three crucial benefits of walking daily.
1. Enhanced Long-Term Health
Sticking to a regular walking schedule can have a profound impact on your long-term health. According to the American Heart Association, walking reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It's empowering to know that a simple exercise such as walking can make a significant difference in your overall well-being.
2. Boosted Immune System
Feel a cold coming on? Strap on your athletic shoes and make a beeline for the treadmill. Or better yet, stay one step ahead of those germs by committing to walking each day.
As Harvard Health points out, "A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least five days a week, had 43 percent fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less."
3. Improved Mood
Fast track your good mood with a brisk walk to enjoy one of the most uplifting benefits of this exercise. Getting enough strides in regularly has been shown to improve an individual's mood, according to Mayo Clinic. Don't wait for your spirits to dip, make time for walking each day to stay in your happy place.
Walking is a flexible exercise that can be adjusted according to your fitness level and can be done year-round thanks to the trusty treadmills at your gym. If you're eager to start your daily walks, there are some key points to remember:
Warming Up & Cooling Down
These crucial steps in your walking workout should not be skipped. As Prevention magazine suggests, you should warm up for five minutes before your walk and cool down for five minutes following your time on the treadmill. Walk at a slow pace to warm up and include some stretching (off the treadmill) to cool down.
The Right Gear
One of the great things about walking is that you really don't need specialized apparel beyond what feels comfortable (besides, of course, a good pair of shoes). Supportive shoes that fit well are critical to enjoying this exercise, so you may want to consider buying a pair of athletic shoes designed for walking. These can be found at most sports stores and online, typically categorized as "walking shoes." This type of footwear is designed with the activity of walking in mind, and helps support your body during daily walks.
Ease into your new walking routine by starting slow. Begin with both a pace and time limit that feels good to you and build from there. Start with a 15-minute walk and evaluate how you feel, then add on a few minutes each day until you build up to your target walk time, Runner's World recommends.
You don't need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to enjoy the benefits of walking daily — you'll simply notice results from your dedication and consistency. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.