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Movement is improvement: 20 benefits of walking

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Walking accomplishes more than merely getting us from point A to point B. It has proven health benefits too, and allows us to experience the world around us at a slower, more leisurely pace.

Take a look at some of the top benefits of walking—and then go take a walk yourself.

1. Supports healthy weight management

Walking is one of the easiest ways to burn calories and increase metabolism, both of which contribute to healthy weight management. For reference, a brisk 30-minute walk burns about 200 calories.

2. Supports cardiovascular health

Walking is a moderate-intensity activity that can help strengthen your heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, helps lower your risk for various heart conditions, too.

3. Strengthens bones and eases joint pain

Walking is a low-impact exercise that puts stress on your bones—the good kind of stress—which helps keep your bones and muscles strong. And the more you walk, the more mobility you’ll have, which can help reduce joint stiffness and pain, especially in the knees and hips.

4. Increases energy levels

It may seem counterintuitive, but exercise can actually give you more energy, not drain it. A small study found that participants felt more energized after 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs than they did after drinking a small dose of caffeine. So the next time you start nodding off or feel your focus start to wane, get up and walk around for a bit.

5. Improves sleep quality

Just about any cardio will help you sleep better. Walking is a relaxing activity, which can help you achieve the calm you need to catch the zzz’s you need.

6. Helps manage stress and anxiety

Walking can help reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone the body produces as a response to occasional stress. And its relaxing nature benefits more than just your sleep; it helps soothe a troubled mind, too.

7. Helps you stay physically active

Often we assume that a workout only counts if you do it at a gym. But walking is actually a viable way to stay physically fit (if you do it enough). Even better, it’s less intimidating than a gym workout and you can do it from anywhere.

8. Sparks creativity

Ever wonder why your best ideas always seem to come to you when you’re physically active? Walking helps clear your head, which allows the creative side of your brain to get to work. Walking also provides a change of scenery and allows you to focus on other things, which can spark new ideas and perspectives.

9. Helps you live longer

Walking not only improves your quality of life, it can also help you live longer. Scientists at Semnan University Medical Sciences analyzed the results of seven studies involving over 28,000 participants, and found that all-cause mortality dropped about 12% for every 1,000 steps people took each day (up to 16,000 steps per day).

10. Good for digestion

One of the best things you can do after eating a big meal is go for a walk. It gets the blood flowing and helps stimulate the digestive system so it can work more efficiently.

11. Improves balance and coordination

When you walk you’re strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the lower body, which can improve your balance and stability. Walking also requires a surprising amount of coordination between the legs, arms, and core, which can enhance your overall coordination and body control.

12. Gets you outside

Fresh air, sun, and nature is a reliable way to boost your spirits. Add a walk to the mix and you get the cardiovascular benefits as well.

13. Improves your mood

Walking, like any exercise, releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the brain. If you’re in a bad mood, stepping away to “walk it off” can do you (and everyone around you, TBH) a favor.

14. Lowers blood pressure

If you walk regularly, you’re strengthening your heart by improving blood flow and reducing the workload on the heart. This helps keep blood pressure in the normal, healthy range.

15. Boosts immune function

Want to give yourself extra protection during cold and flu season? Go for a walk most days. Walking helps the immune cells perform effectively—increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and strengthening antibodies—so the immune system can work efficiently.

16. Can be enjoyed alone or with people

Whether you need alone time or a break with friends, walking is a simple and easy way to get what you need.

17. Appropriate for any fitness level

The great thing about walking is that you don’t have to work your way up to it—you can start where you are. And if you’re already in good shape, you’ll still benefit from regular walks.

18. One of the best ways to explore a new city, or get to know your own

If you’ve got the time, walking is the best way to explore your surroundings. Slowing down is what allows us to find the hidden gems we miss if we’re zooming by in a car.

19. Great time to catch up on audiobooks, podcasts, or listen to music

Multitaskers, this one’s for you. Kill two birds with one stone by getting some exercise in while catching up on that book or podcast you’ve been meaning to get to for ages.

20. It’s free!

Unlike most sports, getting started with walking doesn’t require a small fortune to get the equipment you need. You don’t even have to be in the perfect indoor or outdoor setting to do it. Just walk, whenever and wherever you can, and you’ll get its promised benefits.

Take a walk today . . . and every day

Walking is a simple yet powerful way to support your health and keep you feeling great. While 10,000 steps per day is a common goal, there is no set rule on the number of steps you should get each day. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking each day. If you can, adding 1,000 steps to what you already do will increase the benefits you get from walking.

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