Exercise can be a constant struggle for us, especially when we’re so busy. It can become such a burden that we forget why we even do it in the first place. One of the biggest reasons people engage in fitness is to work on their body, but there is plenty of non-physical benefits exercise can have as well— even when it’s something as simple as a short walk. In fact, walking might be one of the best ways to get moving at all.
The CDC recommends adults engage in at least 150 per week of moderate-intensity exercise. That comes to 2 hours and 30 minutes a week, which equates to about 21 minutes of walking a day. Can you really not fit that in? We think you can. Maybe if you knew how beneficial walking could be, you’d make the time for it. Here are 7 things walking will do for you, besides just dropping pounds.
1. Enhanced mood
Believe it or not, a small, light walk has the ability to light up our moods instantly. That’s because walking has the ability to modify your nervous system enough so that any anger or hostility you’re holding in will actually start to melt away. So before you go and say something you regret your husband when he didn’t put the dishes away for the billionth time, let off some steam with a walk. You might be surprised how the anger has decreased significantly.
2. Enriched creativity
A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition found that the simple act of going for a walk can get your creative juices flowing. So bring a notepad on a walk, because a stroll can stimulate some bright ideas for your project you’ve been stumped at work, your kid’s birthday theme, or your next novel.
3. Less stress
A brisk walk can help boost endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and even help with mild depression. So if you’re feeling particularly anxious about a situation, head out for a walk and feel the stress melt away. (And P.S.: you’ll get through it!)
4. Improved bones and joints
Walking regularly can provide more joint mobility. As for your bones, walking can help limit the amount of bone mass loss and even reduce your risk of fractures. Up your walk from 21 minutes to 30 and you can attempt to reduce joint pain, stiffness and inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
5. Lower risk for heart disease
We know that running can help lower the risk of heart-related disease or stroke, but walking might be just as effective. Brisk walking can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes just as much as running, according to a study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkley, CA.
6. Increased eye health
Walking three or more times a week can reduce elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). This can slow the progression of glaucoma, a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. Reducing your IOP can prevent damage to the optic nerve. Crazy that a walk can do that!
7. Bowel regularity
Walking can help you get regular if you know what we mean. So if you’re suffering from any constipation, jet out for a walk around the block to get things moving. Walking has also been known to help in digestion; that’s why you might hear doctors recommend walking after eating. Try it if you’re feeling backed up!
How often do you take a walk? Have you noticed a difference in any of these things?