Health benefits of walking
When it comes to setting aside time to exercise every day, how many of you find it to be a daunting task? Is there just not enough time in your day to accomplish everything on your to-do list? Do you find exercise to be one of those things that you’ll get to if you have the time? Well, what if I told you that simply going for a brisk walk every day can do wonders for your health? Let’s explore this concept and see if getting the health benefits of exercise could be that easy.
Turn back the clock on the aging process
As an incentive to get you moving, studies have shown that walking at least 20 to 25 minutes a day can tack on 3 to 7 years to your life. One of the reasons for this longer life span is because walking mends our aging DNA. Not to mention, it’s a mood-booster, helps you think more clearly, and delays the beginning stages of dementia.
In essence, when you’re up walking, you’re not stationary and that means your heart is doing what it does best – pumping like a champ. The entire time this is happening, you are strengthening your heart muscle. Even if you have a job that requires long hours of sitting, just get up and move around for 2 minutes/hour. If you do this simple step, you will live 33% longer than those who stay sitting.
Pump up the volume
As we get older, we have to be mindful of certain conditions that may affect us such as arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, and transient ischemic attacks (strokes). With that being said, we need to be proactive with our health before any of these conditions set in.
First thing to consider is that walking enhances circulation and gets your heart beating faster. Furthermore, as this cardio activity is taking place, your blood pressure decreases and the likelihood that blood clots will form is reduced.
Arthritis and walking
According to an analysis done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “more than half of people with arthritis (53%) didn’t walk at all for exercise, and 66% stepped out for less than 90 minutes a week. Only 23% meet the current recommendation for activity – walking for at least 150 minutes a week.”
So why is walking such an integral part when you suffer from arthritis? Well when you get your limbs moving, you are essentially keeping your joints lubricated with synovial or joint fluid. What this means is that as you walk, your joint cartilage (lacking its own blood source) will get compressed.
Consequently, your joint cartilage when compressed will receive the necessary nutrients and oxygen to thrive. However, without some form of exercise (walking, bicycling, or swimming), your joints will weaken and your arthritis will flare up.
Walking with heart disease
What if you already suffer from heart disease? Can the prognosis of someone living with heart disease be improved? Well according to health.harvard.edu, the answer is yes due to a “meta-analysis of 48 trials in 8,946 patients which showed that moderate exercise – typically walking or riding a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes three times a week – produced a 26% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease and a 20% reduction in the overall death rate.” It’s encouraging to think that there’s a fairly simple way (walking) to counteract the effects of heart disease on the heart (even if it’s 20 – 26%).
Osteoporosis and walking
Contrary to popular belief, people who suffer from osteoporosis believe they are more prone to fractures if they exercise. Well, the fact of the matter is that walking may not restore osteoporotic bones, but it will avert future bone density loss.
According to americanbonehealth.org, “walking may slow age-related decline in bone density and may influence factors that preserve bone strength.” In addition, “walking volume, pace, and stride were associated with reductions in hip fracture risk of 40 – 60%.”
Naturally, you should consult your physician before implemented a new walking regimen, but as americanbonehealth.com states, “the three primary pillars of bone health have always been a calcium-rich diet, vitamin D, and weight bearing exercise.” With that being said, walking is possibly the simplest form of a weight bearing exercise.
Risk of stroke and walking
Suffering from a stroke can be debilitating to the mind and body. Not to mention, it’s the third leading cause of death in the U.S. However, if you incorporate walking into your daily exercise regimen, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing a stroke in your lifetime.
In fact, according to webMD.com, a study was conducted a few years back on “the exercising habits of 39,315 female health professionals averaging 54 in age and the results were the following: women who walked at a pace of 3 miles/hour or faster had a 37% lower risk of suffering any type of stroke; women who walked two or more hours/week had a 30% reduced risk of any type of stroke.” Basically, strokes are induced from a clot or a ‘clog’ in the brain. However, the more active you are; the more you promote blood flow and keep clots from forming.
So there you have an explanation on the health benefits of walking daily. Here’s to living your best life ever! Feel free to leave me a comment or any insight you may have on the topic of the health benefits of walking.
Americanbonehealth.org. (2017). Is Walking Good for Bone Health? – American Bone Health. [online] Available at: https://americanbonehealth.org/exercise/is-walking-good-for-bone-health/ [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].
Hendrick, B. (2010). Brisk Walking Reduces Stroke Risk. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/stroke/news/20100406/brisk-walking-reduces-stroke-risk [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].
Publishing, H. (2009). Walking: Your steps to health – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/walking-your-steps-to-health [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].
Skerrett, P. (2013). Exercise is good, not bad, for arthritis – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/exercise-is-good-not-bad-for-arthritis-201305086202 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].