5 Health Benefits of Walking

Outdoor activity couple hiking - happy hikers walking in forest. Hiker couple laughing and smiling. Multiracial group, Caucasian man and Asian woman on Big Island, Hawaii, USA.

What’s a low-impact, gentle, easy and free exercise that anyone can do regardless of age or ability? Why, walking, of course.

There are many health benefits to walking. Here are 5 of them.

1. It’s good for your heart.

Studies have shown that regular walking can reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke. Walking can help reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. LDL, as you know, is bad cholesterol. At the same time, it can help increase the levels of good cholesterol, HDL. This keeps the blood pressure balanced.

Walking has the effect of raising the heart rate. It gets blood pumping. So in effect, walking is a workout for the heart and the circulatory system both. And just half an hour of brisk walking can already help in the prevention and control of high blood pressure. According to the Stroke Association, walking can easily lower the stroke risk by as much as 27%.

2. It helps lower the risk for other diseases.

More than just being beneficial to heart health, walking can also have positive effects on other health issues. Studies have shown that walking daily can help ward off type 2 diabetes risk by up to 60%. Those who actively exercise by walking also lower their risk of developing colon cancer, breast cancer and womb-related cancers by 20%  compared to those who don’t.

In the over 65 crowd, walking has been shown to have a protective effect on the brain and can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 40%. Older people are encouraged to walk at least 6 miles per day to maximize the benefits and avoid brain shrinkage and its detrimental effects on memory.

Walking also strengthens and stimulates bones. Because it also helps maintain healthy joints, it’s an important factor in the fight against arthritis and osteoporosis.

3. It helps manage weight.

For people who want to lose weight, it is ideally good to burn 600 calories more than what they’ve eaten. Walking is the easiest way to do that. On average, a 60kg person can burn 75 calories by walking 2mph for 30 minutes. Increase the pace and you’ll burn more. Brisk walking at a pace of 4mph will burn 150 calories in half an hour.

On top of the weight loss benefits, walking helps increase and improve muscle mass. The more toned muscles you have, the faster your metabolism is. And a faster metabolism means you get to burn more calories, even at rest. Of course,  it doesn’t hurt that walking will also give you nicely shaped legs, well-defined calves, quads and hamstrings and a lift your glutes (that would be your buttocks.)

4. It can help you get a flatter stomach.

People generally just associate walking with getting shapely legs. But it can actually help you have a flatter and more toned stomach and smaller waist, too. The trick is to lengthen your spine while you walk. What you want to do is create a space between your earlobes and shoulders. Then pull your stomach in and walk like you have a cup of water balance on your hip bones. This posture allows your shoulders to rotate while you walk and works your oblique abdominal muscles. Each step, therefore, is a step towards a smaller waistline.

5. It gives you energy and makes you happy.

It might seem strange. How can exercise make you more energetic? But really, walking is a good energizer. This is because it boosts your circulation and allows you to have more oxygen in the body. More oxygen naturally makes you more alert.

And finally, exercise has the ability to boost mood because it releases happy hormones in the brain. So even a moderate walking exercise can make you happier than ever.

So what are you waiting for? Get active and walk a few miles. It’s definitely going to be very beneficial for you.