We all must be aware by now, just exactly how good walking is as an exercise. It’s something we do naturally sometimes; that we’re not even aware of doing it! However, we should be walking more than our general daily commutes.
In other words, we should ideally walk around 30 minutes each day. Why 30 minutes? Well, this is the average time recommended by many health experts across the world.
Obviously, we know 30 minutes every day is not always possible due to certain commitments in our lives.
Given that, we should incorporate walking into our weeks as much as we can. There are many advantages we could experience if we do.
Benefits of walking every day
1. Can help maintain or loose weight
Now depending on your weight goals, if you walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes, it could have a positive outcome. If you’re walking to lose weight, you will need to consider the speed, length, and intensity of your walk to achieve your goals.
As you will be wanting to focus on the number of calories you are burning compared to what you’re eating. Ideally, you’ll want a calorie deficit, and the best way to know if you’re burning enough calories while walking is to wear a tracker. The results from walking are entirely subjective to each individual.
There was a study run which involved eleven women who all had a moderate weight. After six months of daily brisk walking, they lost on average 17pounds, i.e., 10% of their original body weight! How inspiring is that? If they can do it, you can!
On the other hand, if you’re looking to maintain weight while walking, it can substitute as a great exercise to allow you to work out but not loose too much off your body. But remember, if this is the case, you will need to choose your walk carefully and your diet, which goes alongside it!
2. Reduce your stress levels
If you don’t know already when you walk, it releases natural opioids called endorphins. These are produced by your central nervous system and pituitary gland. Exercise such as walking triggers the release of them into your bloodstream and targets your brain’s specific areas.
As a result, they serve as a natural painkiller giving you a short term sense of euphoria. An increase in endorphins is shown to have a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. As a result, after walking, you will feel less stressed. Imagine how good this is for you every day?
3. Add on years to your life
If you walk every day, it can increase your lifespan. A famous study the Mayo Clinic conducted involved around 475,000 participants, and researchers took their BMI and self-reported walking speeds. They found overall from the participants if they walked each day, it added around 7.2 years onto their life.
However, it did not state where they did their walking. Therefore, if you’re waking your dog, taking your children out on a stroll, or walking to work, this is fine as long as you do it daily! You want to be around as long as possible to gain enough wisdom, right?
4. Lower your blood pressure
If you suffer from high blood pressure, then you should DEFINITELY walk every day! A study was ran by the University of Western Australia, where 35 women and 32 men aged 55-80 followed three different exercise plans.
The first plan involved participants sitting down and doing no exercise for over 8 hours. The second plan involved the same but 30 minutes a day of walking on a treadmill lightly. Finally, the last group had 3 minutes of light walking every 30 minutes.
They found those who exercised each day, particularly those who walked longer, had significant drops in their systolic blood pressure. It’s essential you should discover ways to brisk walk each day, as high blood pressure could lead to heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease. This applies to you even more, if your family history involves many members having high blood pressure.
Walking for 30 minutes isn’t that hard, right?
5. Reduces your dementia risk
Dementia is just an awful disease. If you’re not aware of it, it typically happens to your when you hit an elderly age. Your memory is negatively impacted, and your brain deteriorates, where you often forget important things that have happened in your life.
It’s been shown that if you walk every day, it can reduce your blood flow and lower your dementia risk.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh shown that those who walked daily, increased the size of their hippocampus (a part of the brain known for storing memories) by 2%! Therefore, its shown to increase memory function and reduce dementia risk.
6. Makes your heart stronger
Arguably, your heart is one of the most critical organs in your body. Which means you need to do everything in your power to look after it. Walking for 30 minutes each day will positively impact your heart and reduce your chances of getting high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.
7. Less pressure on your joints
Compared to other forms of exercise, walking is less strenuous. Similarly, if you have joint pain, it’s better to do this exercise than others. As it’s cheaper, less demanding, and you don’t need to pay for a gym membership or specialist help!
It’s quite common for top athletes to walk if they’ve been injured. They use walking as a form of exercise as it’s not strenuous on their injuries, and it still keeps them in shape.
8. Increases your bone strength and reduces chances of osteoporosis
Just like dementia, osteoporosis is not a condition you’d want to have. If you don’t know what it is, it basically a health condition that causes your bones to become brittle and weak. This means as they’re fragile, they’re more likely to break or fracture. Unfortunately, once you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis, there is no cure.
However, if you start frequently walking for just 30 minutes a day, you can reduce your risk of getting this condition. Likewise, if you have osteoporosis, walking is not a strenuous exercise and mentioned above, it’s light on the joints. So it’s also easy to do!
9. Better your sleep
Are you a bad sleeper? If you walk every day, you can better your sleeping habits. The journal of sleep health published a study of those who suffered clinical sleep problems. They found due to the regular use of walking each day; their problems decreased as more blood flow got to their brain cells.
10. If you’re walking outside can increase your vitamin D
Walking every day for 30 minutes has so many benefits to your body. Just think about adding to those benefits by walking in the sun. Daily exposure to the sun each day can increase your vitamin D levels can improve your mood.
Likewise, low levels of vitamin D exposure can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and the chances of getting certain cancers and asthma in children.
11. Tones your body
If you brisk walk every day for 30 minutes and change your routine now and again, you will see our body start to tone up. This is because you’re working your quadriceps (your thigh muscle), glutes (bum), hamstrings (backs of your legs), and core (stomach).
Also, if you walk around 100-120 steps per minute at a brisk pace and swing your arms, you will strengthen your body’s upper muscles, including the ones in your arms and your back. To know how to swing your arms, and have a good back posture, check out the benefits of a good posture while walking.
Therefore if you do it regularly, you will have less wobbly bits and more muscle. To do this, it’s recommended you walk at a moderate intensity. Also, mix up your walking at times and add different routes to give your body more of a workout.
12. Reduces the chances of depression
You’ll often hear or know many sufferers of depression take to exercise a natural remedy. This is no different with walking! A Harvard study discovered that walking for an hour each day can reduce the chances of severe depression by up to 26%! Exercise serves as an antidepressant for your brain.
The reason behind this is that exercise, like walking, can stimulate the brain. It can also increase the growth of neural networks and reduce inflammation of the brain.
Like stress, exercise releases endorphins, which reduces your cortisol levels and elevates a positive sensation, allowing you to feel more upbeat after your walk. Now, do you see why exercise is so popular? You deserve to feel good more frequently.
13. It gives you clarity
Often many walkers say that during their walks, they enter a meditative state. In other words, they enter a state of mind where they’re more precise and focused.
Only allocating at least 30 minutes a day for walks allows you to time to think and gather your thoughts if you live a busy life. Just imagine how productive you can be from this self-aware time?
Risks of walking every day
Now even though, we’ve highlighted the benefits of walking every day. We feel it’s important you also know the disadvantages of walking every day. Now and again, you often get many people who abuse their exercise regime and find they may be overcompensating, putting their body under stress. The risks of walking every day are:
1. Constant fatigue
If you’re walking every day, you may feel incredibly tired! This is especially the case if you’re new to implementing this into your routine, and you’ve suddenly increased your intensity. Moreover, if you’re a regular walker and go for strenuous long walks every day, you may become tired when doing other daily activities.
2. Increased resting heart rate
If you are more fatigued, walking a lot, and having little sleep, you will find that your resting heart rate is a lot higher. While walking has been shown to help the heart with many problems, over-exercising may put it under more strain. However, if walking is done right, then your heart rate should lower at resting, naturally.
3. Reduce your appetite
It’s been shown; if you walk every day at a large intensity, it may reduce your appetite. As a result, if you don’t put the calories back into your body you’ve burned, you may soon loose lots of weight, which could cause you to reduce your muscle mass.
4. Higher chances of colds or infections
This particularly applies if you’re run down and overtraining. When you’re like this, your body is more susceptible to catching an acute cold or an infection.
How much walking is too much?
It wouldn’t be ethical to highlight all of the incredible benefits of walking every day, without stating a few negatives. However, the truth is the benefits of walking completely outweigh its disadvantages. Plus, you can avoid its problems by doing the following:
Mix up your training days
A lot of these disadvantages to walking every day is caused by overtraining. This means putting your body under unnecessary stress, which eventually leads to burn out. What we recommend is swapping your days. For example, one day, you will do a shorter walk and another a longer one.
Further to this, we suggest changing the pace of your walking on certain days and your walking routes. Not only will this be lighter on your muscles and joints, but it will also give you more mental motivation to complete your walks. Likewise, check out the weather forecast in advance, as this may give you an insight into the intensity of your walk.
Plus, if things are getting too much, remember you can always count your daily exercise as part of your walk! A good way of checking if you’re doing too much is getting a fitness tracker that counts your steps and then can compare your steps or calorie burn to your regular walks.
Remember to warm up, cool down, and stretch!
Walking should be treated like any other exercise. This means before you set out on your walks, you should take around 5-10 minutes to do a light and easy warm-up. Following your warm-up, carry out a gentle stretch focusing on your legs and upper body. This way, when you walk, you don’t risk an injury.
After your walk, follow up with a further 5-10 minutes to cool down, this is even more important if you’ve been walking fast! A cool down allows your body to get back to its natural resting heart rate slowly, and a cool down serves as a great transition. Finally, to stop those muscles from getting too tight from the walk, stretch proceeding your cool down.
If you’re planning on increasing your walk, do it in increments
This point goes in line with the mixing up your training days. If you plan to walk distances you’ve never walked before or increase your intensity, do it in small steps. Don’t try to include all goals into your walking routine at once.
In particular, if you want to increase your calorie burn, don’t increase your steps or speed all at once! Focus on one goal at a time and do it slowly to allow your body to get adjusted. A great way of keeping track and monitoring your progress is using a fitness app or watch.
Be consistent in your walks
It’s vital that when you’re walking, you are doing it frequently, every day. When you do it safely and often, then you will reap the benefits of this post. Long term consistency allows you to be more successful in the long term.
Get a walking partner
If you can, choose to walk every day with a walking companion, whether its a friend, family member, or colleague. This allows you to stay consistent at what you do, and it also helps set your pace. Plus, if you do get injured, then they are there to help. Walking partners are a great way to keep you motivated and walk every day.
If you’re walking every day, you will most likely burn a lot more calories than you usually do, which will kickstart your metabolism. As a result, you could find yourself losing more weight and muscle mass. We already know an effect of the above is that overtraining could reduce your appetite.
To avoid this, make sure your eating foods high in calories, a well-balanced diet, and once that have a proper energy release. One excellent method of knowing if you’re getting the right intake is to use a food diary. A well known free one is MyFitnessPal, which helps you record your intake and add in your calories burned from exercise.
Listen to your body
At Walkathon, we feel that this point is the most important one when walking every day! You can read up as much advice and consult as much as you want. However, no one knows your body better than YOU.
This means if you feel any sense of pain, shortness of breath, heart rate, or anything else different to the usual, stop. Upon this, we suggest to consult your doctor and take up their advice. Remember, you only have one body, and your health is essential!
Walking is an exercise we should all be incorporating into our lives every day. Whether we’re out walking the dog, taking our kids for a stroll, or even walking to work.
If you can, we suggest dedicating time each day to walking as this will help you enjoy its many benefits! Remember, though, to listen to your body and take it easy if you notice anything unusual.
If you plan on walking every day intensely, we recommend consulting your physician for their advice.