There is a lot of hype centered around walking these days. Long walks are being promoted as a life changer. From fitness gurus to motivational speakers, spiritual masters to psychiatrists and therapists, everyone seems to be singing praises about prolonged walking and what it can do for you.
What is exactly all the hype about? Is it beneficial for you? How can you get into the habit of walking? We will answer all your questions in this article. (Murray, H., Higgins, J.W., Temple, V., Tuokko, H., Porter, M. and Rhodes, R., 2012)
What's The Buzz Around Walking?
Many fitness gurus and therapists nowadays are promoting walking as a healthy lifestyle for physical and mental health. This is because it is a very beginner-friendly way to get started with your fitness and well-being goals.
Usually, we do not pay much attention to the time we spend walking every day. Most people deem it to be a meager task, and for many, it is an inconvenience when they have to walk.
However, increasing our frequency of walking and learning healthy behaviors like mindful walking can cause significant positive effects on our health and send us into an upward spiral towards living a healthy lifestyle.
People are slowly coming to this realization and are integrating this healthy habit into their life. That is why a lot of buzz is being created around it. (McGrath, M., Howard, D. and Baker, R., 2015)
How Can Walking Be Beneficial For You?
Walking can be heavily beneficial for you. You can develop both physical and mental strength by inculcating this healthy habit. You will surely see a positive impact of walking on your life once it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
Here Are Some Of The Strengths Developed From Walking:
- Strengthens the heart and lungs: Walking over long distances needs a lot of stamina. Our lungs and heart have to do a lot of work to provide the constant oxygenation required for proper functioning in such a physically demanding task. Even on short-distance walks, our cardiovascular system is very active compared to when we are sitting still or are traveling by other modes of transport.
- Increases muscular strength: Walking engages our legs which contain the most muscles in our bodies. Walking for more extended periods causes our muscles to become strong over a while. This is because of the constant wear and tear of muscles that happens due to intense physical activity such as walking.
- Makes bones stronger: Walking makes bones stronger in two ways. First, it engages the bones in our legs more than what would be possible while sitting idle. Secondly, it increases bone thickness due to increased testosterone in our system. Testosterone plays a huge role in determining our muscle and bone density. Walking can boost testosterone due to increased physical activity in the legs, which contain a major amount of muscles in the body.
- Reduces risk of heart attacks: Walking is very good for heart health. It soothes our minds and calms us down. It is a rhythmic process, and hence it helps improve the rhythmic beating of our hearts. Thus it helps lower the risk of cardiac arrest or arrhythmia among those who walk regularly.
- Reduces overall body fat: Walking can help aid your weight loss goals. If you want to lose fat in your body, you must consider increasing the amount of walking you do every day.
Walking for about 1 kilometer can burn about 75 calories. You can walk about 5 kilometers in an hour, which means you can burn roughly 375 calories. That means an hour of walking added to your daily routine can help you lose the calories gained from a double patty hamburger (contains 295 calories approx) and some more.
Mental Health Benefits Of Walking:
- Relieves Stress: Walking can calm down the mind. Paying attention to the surroundings while walking at a slow pace can provide you with stress relief. Many people have reported feeling peaceful and relaxed after taking a walk outdoors.
- Helps Reduce Depression: Studies have shown that walking aids in curing depression. Walking and other physical activities are shown to lower depression in patients.
- Helps Manage Anxiety: Walking or doing other exercises helps the release of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are hormones that make us calm and create a feeling of euphoria. Thus endorphins can help us manage our anxiety effectively.
How To Start With The Habit Of Walking:
As you have learned the benefits of walking, you may be wanting to start inculcating this healthy activity in your daily routine. Getting started with walking is very easy, and making it a part of your lifestyle will become a breeze once you start implementing these techniques:
- Take the stairs: If you live in an apartment building and your apartment or condo is on a reasonable floor, you should skip out using elevators and take the stairs instead. This will add to the number of steps you have taken towards walking on that day, pun intended.
- Walk your dog more often: If you own a pet in your house, this tip might benefit you. Instead of hiring someone else to walk the dog, you must try doing it yourself. This will help you walk more while also saving some money.
If you are taking the dog for a walk by yourself, consider increasing the frequency and distance of your walks. This way, you will add more steps to your walking routine, and your pet will get to enjoy some more time in the open.
- Find a walking buddy: Try to get a friend with whom you can walk. Walking with a friend or a group of friends will help you stay motivated throughout the walk and add more social interaction to your routine.
- Go shopping for groceries: If your grocery shops are at a walkable distance from your house, try walking to the grocery every day to get your stuff instead of ordering delivery.
The same goes for dining out. Instead of ordering delivery, try walking to your neighborhood restaurant.