Especially for those with knee, ankle, and back problems, walking is a great alternative to other cardio workouts such as running, which can typically be thought of as a “better” workout than walking. However, it’s quite the contrary – in fact, it’s a lower impact workout that can be done over longer periods of time. Read on to learn all about the benefits of walking, and how you can make it part of your daily routine.
Benefits of walking
There are tons of mental and physical health benefits of walking. Check out ten benefits of this easy-on-the-joints exercise:
- Improve your mood: Walking releases natural pain killing endorphins to your body.
- Get better sleep: Studies have found that older women who took a daily one-hour walk were more likely to relieve insomnia than those who didn’t walk.
- Lose weight: On average, a brisk half-hour walk burns 200 calories.
- Improve circulation: Fight off heart disease, increase your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart when you fit walks into your daily routine.
- Support your joints: Most of your joint cartilage doesn’t have any direct blood supply – in fact, it gets its nutrition from the joint fluid that circulates as we move.
- Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease: A study found that elderly men who walked more than ¼ mile per day had 50% fewer run-ins with dementia and Alzheimer’s than those who walked less.
- Improve your breath: Since your breathing rate increases while walking, oxygen travels faster through your bloodstream, which helps to eliminate waste products and boost your energy level.
- Strengthen your muscles: When you’re walking, you’re working on toning your leg and abdominal muscles – and if you pump your arms while you walk, you can tone those too!
- Live longer: Research finds that those who exercise regularly as they get older, especially those with underlying health conditions, have a much better chance of living longer than their non-walking counterparts.
- Slow down your mental decline: A study of 6,000 women over the age of 65 found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more.
Starting a walking routine
Not sure how to get started? It’s different for everyone. If you’re a beginner, start slower and less frequently, and just work your way up. If you’re more of an expert, consider bringing hand weights or pushing yourself with new speeds.
No matter your skill and experience, you should always follow these proper fitness walking techniques to prevent injury and ensure an effective, enjoyable workout:
- Maintain good posture – keep your head upright and looking ahead as you walk, and don’t hunch your shoulders.
- Steady foot placement helps you maintain balance – keep your feet close to an imaginary line in the center of the ground in front of you.
- Find a good stride length that works for you.
- Always keep at least one foot on the ground.
- Swing your arms while you walk to burn an additional 5-10% calories.
It’s also helpful to walk throughout your day. Try to walk to work, take short walks during your work breaks, or choose stairs over elevators and escalators.
When you’re looking for a way to get your cardio in, but you aren’t a big fan of running, consider going for a walk! Walking has some great health benefits that are great paired with a healthy meal…much like the delicious, chef-prepared meals from Snap Kitchen. Check out our menu here!