Walking, How Underated? Part 1

It’s been a crazy year, but fingers crossed there is still time for all of us to enjoy a beautiful summer. However, with all of this excess eating and a need to at least be able to keep up in class when the gyms re-open where can you start? Running? For some that simply isn’t an option, but there is a good low impact alternative that you can start now and bring to the gym. 

Experts say walking is often unfairly dismissed as a pointless exercise. As it turns out, if you share that opinion then you may be missing out on an extremely effective physical activity, not to mention a mental boost.

Research suggests walking can be as good as a workout, if not better, than running. This is where things get subjective, it’s about how running vs walking is potentially a better exercise choice for some people.

That being said, walking is a great form of exercise and can help you reach your fitness and weight-loss goals. Walking is often the suggested workout over running for people with knee, ankle and back problems and also for people who are overweight. Walking is a lower impact exercise and can be done for longer periods of time.

The Physical Benefits of Walking

Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression, fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain. Walking can even prevent weight gain, reduce the risk of cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation and posture. The list goes on…

Studies suggest that when it comes to prominent markers of our health, walking at a moderate intensity can do a similar job to that of running, providing you are expending the same amount of energy. 

Past studies have supported the notion that a daily walk can reduce the risk of stroke in both men and women when compared to individuals who led a sedentary lifestyle.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who consistently stuck to a walking routine showed significant improvements in blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, reduction of body fat, reduced cholesterol, improved depression scores with better quality of life and increased measures of endurance.

The Mental Benefits of Walking

While the physical benefits are notable, the mental boost that you can get by adding a walk into your daily routine may be more immediate.

A Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent. Researchers referred to this type of creativity as “divergent thinking”. Defined as a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. According to the study, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas - increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

Psychologists found that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety.

However, it’s not only your creativity that will benefit. Walking is also a proven mood booster with a study finding that just 12 minutes of walking resulted in an increase in attentiveness, self-confidence and vigor versus the same time spent sitting. Walking in nature, specifically, was found to reduce dwelling over negative experiences, which increases activity in the brain associated with negative emotions and raises the risk of depression.

Walking has also been shown to improve memory and prevent the deterioration of brain tissue as we age. Plus, psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression also suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety and boosting mood.

 

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