How often do you go for a walk? Chances are, you spend more time on wheels than you do on foot. The automobile is most likely your preferred method of transport. But, what if you you tried getting from point A to B on foot? How much better might you feel? How much more connected to yourself, to nature, and to your fellow pedestrians might you become?
While we no doubt live in a car culture at this moment in history, the health effects of such a sedentary lifestyle aren’t good. What’s more, our modern day workplace supports this stagnation even further. We spend a lot of time sitting at desks or on the sofa, hunched over computer screens, waiting for that next email or text message to arrive. As a result, many of us are overweight and unhealthy.
Thankfully, there are ways to turn this sedentary lifestyle on its head, and move towards a healthier lifestyle than involves spending more time on your feet and less time on your tush! The benefits of walking more are endless. Let’s take a look at how we can walk more, lose weight, and improve our quality of life in the process!
Is brisk walking as good for you as running?
Most of us think runners pounding the pavement gain way more in terms of weight loss and overall health benefits than walkers strolling along a nature trail. But studies show brisk walking to be every bit as beneficial as running. What’s more, walking briskly is easier on your joints, making it a more sustainable exercise as you age. It also increases your heart rate, a much needed mechanism for cardiovascular health and heart disease prevention.
Exercise does not need to be overly intense to be of benefit. Walking briskly on a regular basis also decreases your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Its preventative benefits for these health issues are every bit as effective as running.
If you’re wondering what constitutes a brisk walking pace, think one that challenges you but isn’t difficult to sustain for a period of 20-30 minutes. You need to increase your heart rate but you also shouldn’t be struggling to breathe. If you’re walking with a friend, you won’t be able to carry on a lively conversation, but you will be able to speak a few sentences here and there. What’s more, if you alternate between a consistent pace and brisker intervals, you’re apt to reap greater weight loss benefits, as a 2015 study shows.
Walking is the most versatile and accessible way to lose weight
To reap the benefits of walking for weight loss, you’ll want to walk for approximately 30 minutes each day. But you don’t have to do it all at once! Walking can be done anywhere, anytime. You don’t need fancy equipment. You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need a thing except your own two feet, and maybe a good pair of walking shoes. As such a versatile exercise, walking is truly the most accessible one out there.
No matter what kind of crazy, busy schedule you might have, you can squeeze in a brisk walk while you wait for your kids to finish baseball practice. You can walk the dogs before work or after dinner. You can walk on your lunch break or first thing in the morning after you get out of bed. For even more of a challenge, take a break during your work day and walk up and down the stairs. Most of us feel an afternoon slump somewhere between 2 and 4pm. This is great time to increase your energy levels and de-stress by taking a walk.
Walking helps curb cravings
The next time you’re craving a sweet treat or salty snack, lace up your tennis shoes and go for a brisk walk. Some studies show that one of the most significant benefits of walking for weight loss is that it tames your sweet tooth. Sugar is one of the absolute worst foods for your health, for so many reasons.
You may also find the more you walk, the stronger you feel. Healthy choices lead to more healthy choices. It’s a positive cycle of lifestyle change. So, the next time you’re about to grab that muffin or pastry, take a walk instead. Then, make yourself an antioxidant-rich cup of tea.
Walking reduces breast cancer risk
Many women fear a breast cancer diagnosis. But, what if the simple act of walking could decrease that fear? While all exercise and weight loss routines promote breast health, walking in particular is one of the most effective ways to ward off breast cancer. Studies have shown women who walk 7 or more hours each week decrease their breast cancer risk by 14% when compared to women who walk 3 hours or less per week. Even for women at a greater risk for the disease, walking also reduces the risk of breast cancer. If you want to lose weight and prevent breast cancer, walk briskly for 20-30 minutes each day.
Walking is a great immune-system booster
The more you take to your feet, the less you’ll get sick. One of the best benefits of walking to lose weight is that it strengthens your entire immune system. The immune system is responsible for good health and illness prevention. Any opportunity to support its proper functioning is a good idea. Walking is perhaps the best opportunity out there! Walking is free. All you need is a little motivation and a steady routine. Strengthen your precious immune system by making a serious effort to walk more each day. And if you want to lose weight, make that walk a brisk one.
Walking is simple, straightforward, and pleasurable
If you want to commit to a walking routine, now’s the time! It’s a simple and straightforward form of exercise that doesn’t involve any bells and whistles. You don’t need to buy expensive equipment, and you don’t need to take a class. Walking is a natural form of movement. As such, you can get started straight away without any fuss. No matter what the state of your physical and mental health, you can enjoy the benefits of walking. You can even lose weight in the process!
Walking reduces stress
Walking is a truly pleasurable act. One of the great benefits of walking to lose weight is stress reduction. Because stress is responsible for so many modern day maladies, walking is the perfect remedy, especially when done outside in nature. You’ll probably find the more you do it, the more you yearn to get outside and walk. Walking by yourself on a nature trail is truly an ideal way to de-stress, get centered, and enjoy some time to simply be with yourself. You can even shed pounds as you simultaneously shed anxiety.
Map out a walking routine that suits you
If you’re a beginner when it comes to a regular walking regimen, you’ll want to start slowly. Over time, you can easily increase the amount of time you spend walking each day. If you’re looking for weight loss, you might want to map out a regular walking routine that motivates and inspires you to maintain it. Creating a routine that is customized to your goals is the best way to make sure it sticks. You might want to walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes while listening to upbeat music. You might prefer walking in silence to help you de-stress. Perhaps you need a workout buddy to stay motivated, and prefer walking with a friend. Your workout buddy might be your dog. Chances are, he or she needs more walk time, too!
You might want to try relying less on your car, especially if you live in an area with good public transportation. This lifestyle change necessitates more walking. Are there places you can go — like the grocery store or a friend’s house — that are within walking distance? Can you walk with your children to school? A car-free lifestyle may not be practical for everyone, but if you can spend less time in an automobile and more time on your feet, your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
Benefits of walking outdoors
When you lace up your walking shoes and head outdoors, the benefits of walking for weight loss become even more significant. Most of us have dangerously low vitamin D levels. We simply don’t spend enough time outside, and in the sun. Even in the sunshine state, low vitamin D levels are common. But take your walking routine outside and you take care of that issue.
Because low vitamin D levels have been linked to various cancers, you’re also decreasing cancer risk. In fact, studies show just how effective walking outdoors can be for lung cancer prevention. If you want to decrease lung cancer risk by 30%, get outside and walk off those extra pounds! Just make sure you don’t let yourself get burned.
You’ll also notice how your mood improves when you walk outside. Any form of exercise improves mood and increases happiness. But when you pair exercise with the great outdoors, it’s a double whammy. If you get crabby from the heat or the humidity, get outside and walk anyway. Your mental health and overall outlook will improve after a nice, long walk in nature. As humans, we were meant to be outside. The more we are, the better we feel.
The benefits of walking outdoors even include healthier skin. When we walk outside, our body naturally produces more collagen. Collagen is responsible for supple, elastic skin. It beautifies our skin, making us look youthful. When we walk outside, our circulation gets a dramatic boost. Walking regularly outdoors decreases the risk of varicose veins, making the skin on our arms and legs look younger. If varicose veins have already made their appearance, walking outside helps lessen swelling and severity.
Walking quiets the mind and improves creative thought
Many artists, writers, and thinkers spend ample amounts of time strolling and pondering. One of the more surprising benefits of walking is its ability to improve creativity. If you allow your mind to wander freely and relax as you walk, insights and inspiration often arises. It feels so good to let your mind wander freely and without the distraction of a cell phone interrupting its flow. So, if you want to support creative juices and pen that novel waiting to be told, turn off your phone and reap this surprising benefit of a regular stroll in the fresh air!
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight-loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!