6 Reasons Why Walking is an Underrated Form of Exercise
While less intensive than other cardio workouts like running or even jogging, walking still offers several important health benefits to people of all fitness levels and ages. For example, going for a walk every day can help you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your heart, and keep you from getting sick as often. Not to mention it's a free and easy form of exercise that doesn't require a lot of planning or effort ahead of time. All you need is the time and a good pair of walking shoes.
Here are six reasons why you shouldn't overlook walking as an effective form of exercise.
1. Burn excess calories
Many people exercise to help them burn calories so that they can lose weight. However, you don't have to engage in high-intensity workouts to burn excess calories.
Depending on speed, terrain, and distance, walking can be an effective way to maintain or even lose weight. For instance, walking uphill will burn more calories than walking on a flat surface. Furthermore, the faster and longer you walk, the more excess fat you will burn as well.
If you tend to be a slower walker, start working on improving your speed and distance a little each day. Eventually, you should be able to cover longer distances in less time.
2. Improve heart health
According to the American Heart Association, walking for at least half an hour a day for five days a week can help reduce your risk for developing coronary disease by nearly 20 percent. Furthermore, you can potentially cut your risk even further by increasing the distance and duration of your walks each day.
Walking can also lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart.
3. Reduce blood sugar
A health study conducted by the American Diabetes Association found that taking a 15-minute walk after each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) can potentially lower your blood sugar. In fact, taking a short walk after eating did more to lower blood sugar than taking a longer walk at some other point during the day.
While more research is still needed to confirm the study's findings, you might consider adding a post-meal walk to your regular exercise routine.
4. Boost immune system
Another potential health benefit of walking is that it may cut your risk of getting sick with a cold or the flu.
For example, the British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study that tracked 1,000 people during cold and flu season. Their research found those who walked at least half an hour a day at a moderate pace had a more than 40 percent lower chance of getting sick with upper respiratory infections. Furthermore, those who did get sick experienced less severe symptoms compared to those who lived a sedentary lifestyle.
5. Boost energy levels
While many people like to grab a cup of coffee or their favorite latte when they feel tired, going for a walk can be a more effective way to boost your energy level. In addition to increasing oxygen flow throughout the body, walking also boosts your levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol - which are the hormones that raise energy levels.
6. Strengthen leg muscles
Finally, walking gives the muscles in your legs a great workout. However, if you really want to build up additional strength, you should walk across hilly terrain or on a treadmill that has an incline. You could also find a good walking route with lots of stairs to climb.
In short, if you want a fairly easy form of exercise that can still have a significant impact on your health and fitness, consider walking. In addition to helping, you burn calories and lose weight, taking a walk every day can also reduce your risk for developing coronary disease, as well as reduce your blood sugar. Furthermore, walking can help boost your immune system and energy levels. It will also help strengthen your leg muscles.