Have you ever heard the saying, “Walking each day helps keep the doctor away.” Probably not, because I just made it up (HA!).
It should become a commonplace saying, though, because it’s one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health.
There are multiple health benefits you’ll get from taking a walk for at least 30 minutes a day. And the latest research is showing there’s even more benefit to breaking your walking time up into multiple shorter walks vs. one long one, because it means you’re moving more frequently throughout the day.
Let’s dig in!
7 Awesome Benefits
1) You’ll reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Check out these science-backed health benefits you’ll experience from a daily 30-minute walk:
- Decreased Risk of Diabetes. Walking increases insulin sensitivity which lowers blood sugar levels, because it allows blood sugar to enter your cells to be used for energy and fuel. This reduces your overall risk for diabetes and helps increase energy levels. To get the biggest blood sugar improvement, it is especially important to walk at least 10 minutes after each meal.
- Lower Blood Pressure & Reduced Risk of Stroke. Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points, and that it may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%.
- Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: One of the most cited studies on walking and health (published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002) found that those who walked 30 or more minutes on 5 or more days per week had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly.
2) You’ll increase lymph flow and lower the inflammation in your body that’s induced by sitting all day.
Lymph flow is SUPER important for your health and vitality. Why?
Because your lymphatic system is your body’s built-in waste management center that filters out and carries away harmful waste products from every cell, tissue and organ in your body. It also absorbs fat-soluble vitamins from your digestive tract and delivers them to your cells.
The lymphatic system is the largest circulatory system in your body consisting of lymphatic vessels, lymphocytes, lymph nodes, tonsils, adenoids, appendix, thymus, spleen and bone marrow. It’s an essential part of your immune functioning that maintains fluid levels, fights infection and produces disease-fighting white blood cells.
So what happens when your lymph isn’t moving effectively?
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor that leads to dis-ease in the body. If lymph is not flowing well, your cells get polluted from their own waste and the lymph fluid becomes a dirty cesspool that results in inflammation and symptoms like fatigue, swelling, infections, headaches, brain fog, fluid backup in the ears, mucous, feelings of heaviness in the arms and legs, constipation, bloating, stiffness, mucous, inability to lose weight and more. That’s why we must keep that lymph moving!
But here’s the thing…
Your lymphatic system doesn’t include an automatic pump like your heart does to move blood through your body. You have to move your lymph fluid. YOU are the pump! That’s where regular walking comes in…it gets your lymph pumping to improve your overall health!
(Click HERE for more tips on creating a high-functioning lymphatic system!)
3) You’ll increase BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor).
Because walking utilizes the largest muscles in your body (your legs), it increases levels of BDNF which works as miracle grow for your brain and neurons. This is important for mitigating brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Plus, if you’re feeling stuck at work or school or you’ve been searching for a solution to a tricky problem, research shows it’s a good idea to get moving.
According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, the simple act of going for a walk instead of sitting can immediately spark creativity.
4) Your mood will improve.
Have you ever used a glass of wine or a square of dark chocolate to take the edge off a rough day? Going for a walk is a much healthier and more effective option with loads of other benefits!
Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system, so much that you can experience a decrease in anger and hostility. It has similar effects as meditation, especially if you use your walking time to breathe deeply and fill your mind with positive thoughts.
Plus, when you make your walks social — meaning you stroll with your partner, a co-worker or a good friend — that interaction helps you feel connected, which further boosts your mood.
And how about people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or need sunshine to feel happy? Taking your walk outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which can help get rid of the blues.
For me, my daily walk feels like therapy and I feel a big difference when I don’t make it happen.
5) Your clothes will likely get looser.
This benefit may seem obvious, but it’s something to keep in mind when you feel like skipping your daily walk.
Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we age. But that’s not all…
Since regular walking lowers your blood sugar by improving your body’s insulin sensitivity, it can help reduce belly fat.
6) You’ll experience better digestion and increased regularity in the bathroom.
A regular walking routine can greatly improve movement in your digestive system, because walking forces you to use your core and abdominal muscles. This movement helps waste move out of your system more quickly. Improves gas and bloating. Helps utilize nutrients.
7) Your legs will look and feel better.
As we age, our risk of developing varicose veins increases. Walking is a proven way to help prevent them from forming.
This is because our venous system includes a circulatory section known as “the second heart,” which is formed by muscles, veins and valves located in our calves and feet. This system works to push blood back up to the heart and lungs.
Walking strengthens this secondary circulatory system by building and preserving leg muscle, which boosts healthy blood flow. And who doesn’t want more toned and shapely legs?!
BONUS: Your health goals will seem more attainable.
When you become a daily walker, you establish a regular routine of movement that’s totally doable. The positive effects you’ll experience from this daily practice will make you more likely to take on more challenging physical activity and other new healthy behaviors.
Think of your daily walk as a springboard into a healthier lifestyle!
Maximize Your Walking Time
I’m all about maximizing the precious hours we have in a day, so I love using my daily walking time to accomplish other things:
I listen to podcasts or audio books for personal development.
I practice deep breathing and active meditation with positive thoughts to detox and send healing energy through my mind and body.
I walk with a friend or my significant other, so we can bond and catch up while improving our health at the same time.
What if the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor walks?
If you live in an area like I do where we have REAL winters, invest in cold weather gear to bundle up and make it happen. If it’s rainy, throw on a raincoat and some waterproof boots and enjoy a walk in the rain.
I totally understand, though, that some weather just can’t be tolerated. If the temps are unbearably low or there’s crazy storm activity going on outside, you can make simple movement happen indoors…
Bounce on a trampoline, march in place, dance like a fool, walk up and down some stairs, throw some air punches and kicks, shake your body out…whatever gets you on your feet and moving to work your muscles and score the health benefits detailed above!
Cheers to transforming your health by walking daily!
With love and gratitude,
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