Exercise. You need to exercise! This is what our society tells us, often leading us to feel guilty if we don’t. Yes, while keeping our bodies healthy and active is very important, we don’t have to force ourselves to the gym for endless hours or start training for marathons which could ultimately be more detrimental than beneficial if we don’t do our research before training. However, for many people they enjoy going to the gym and running. That’s wonderful and I encourage you to keep it up!
However, let’s stop right there for just a moment.
Exercise can really go from one end of the spectrum to the other with extremists pushing for hours at the gym, while couch potatoes having no desire to stay fit and healthy. Exercise should be part of your routine, but not run your life to ruins causing exhaustion or make you hate it so much you don’t even want to try.
While we aren’t all gym gurus or couch potatoes, most of us are just searching for the best ways to stay in shape, keep our hearts healthy and all while finding something we enjoy doing to get ourselves moving as the goal is finding something enjoyable that you actually want to do!
I’ll let you in on a little secret……
Walking can be one of the most beneficial exercises out there.
Wait, really? I don’t have to go to the gym or start running?
No. While doing light weights or going for a jog could be of benefit, you certainly don’t have to partake in these exercises.
So, let’s take a look at the benefits walking can provide.
Good for the Heart and Increases Blood Flow
By walking, you increase your heart rate which lowers blood pressure. The blood vessel pressure is reduced leading to less stiffness so the blood can flow more easily. It’s one of the best proactive steps to fend off heart disease and reduce the risk of a stroke.
Assistance in the Digestive Process
By going for a daily walk, we are serving our digestive systems well. Exercise causes our bodies to experience an increased rate of food movement through our systems. We don’t want the food to sit in our intestines longer than necessary for bacterial absorption purposes, so a simple walk could be what it takes to keep the system working like it should. This could prevent lower rates of heartburn and other similar symptoms.
Mind Escape, Stress Managing
Do you ever feel so worked up, stress piling up? Instead of turning to addictive substances, which many fall victims to, starting your day with a nice walk will help one feel more at ease as you approach the day ahead. Or, if you have an event or time during the day that you know could trigger stress or anxiety, try going for a walk about an hour before the event or meeting takes place. Walks have an incredible calming effect on the brain. This also has to do with the production of endorphins. Which leads into my next point below.
Good for the Hormones
Even your hormones benefit from your walking, especially endorphins. They are responsible for allowing you to feel more at ease, taking the stress out of stressful! Walking is sure to aid in the reduction of anxiety, while increasing mood. Feeling stressed out? Overwhelmed? Not sure how to even start to tackle the endless to-do list? Try going to a 30-minute walk to allow your mind to come to a place of peace to fuel you forward. I can guarantee you’ll feel at least a bit happier after your walk!
Walking in combination with a healthy diet, eating protein rich foods, mainly plant based, can aid in any weight loss goals. Losing weight is not really all about the exercise. It’s about eating right, too! So, by doing both together, you can be well on your way to walking off those extra pounds! To note, don’t expect fast results, but more steady and consistent progress.
Naturally, walking tones the legs, arms and yes abs! Woohoo! Who knew walking could be an ab workout? Changing elevations by walking hills or pavement vs grass vs sand, if you’re lucky enough to walk along the beach, can further assist in increasing muscle tone and range of motion by allowing your muscles to take the weight off the joints. By walking you’ll be decreasing your chances for developing arthritis and osteoporosis, two conditions that affect many adults as we age. Ultimately, walking is a proactive way to increase longevity!
In summary, walking is easy, fun and even wonderful to participate in, in the company of others. Try going for a walk with a good friend, maybe take the dog to find some new trails, take the kids with you out on a stroll. There are many ways make walking a part of your everyday routine. Make walking at least a few days a week your goal to start and increase to doing some walking at every day. Soon, I bet you’ll be looking forward to a walk and your body will start to crave them! Ultimately our bodies know what makes them feel good and if we listen to their pleas, they will serve us well for a lifetime!