Physical inactivity comes at the cost of your health. Lack of physical activity contributes to various critical diseases like type two diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even some types of cancer. People who lead an inactive life have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death than people who lead an active lifestyle.
Inactivity takes a toll on your physical fitness and significantly impacts your mental health. Lack of any kind of physical activity can add to depression and anxiety. If the global population was physically more active, we could avert up to 5 million deaths a year.
It is usually perceived that to maintain good health and exercise, one needs an expensive gym membership or fancy pieces of equipment. But this is far from the truth.
Walking is one of the best ways to stay on top of your fitness goals and is one of the most accessible forms of exercise. All you need is a pair of shoes and the motivation to go for a walk. It has many health benefits, and you can enjoy these benefits by keeping aside just 30 minutes every day to go for a walk.
Walking regularly for 30 minutes can increase your cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, strengthen your muscles, tone your legs, reduce body fat, and the list is endless. It is a low-impact exercise that you can perform at your own pace. You can make walking fun by going for a walk with a friend, taking your dog for a walk, or by playing your favorite music.
Benefits of walking:
Reduces risk of heart disease
Walking increases your heart rate, strengthens the heart muscles and increases blood circulation. Doing it for at least 30 minutes every day could lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by 35%. It boosts metabolism and lowers blood pressure, which helps to reduce the risk of developing hypertension and cardiac diseases.
Helps to maintain weight
Walking increases your heart rate, leading the body to expend energy and burn calories. Burning calories can help you in maintaining or losing weight. A research study states that regular walking helps reduce belly fat, which improves the body’s response to insulin. Walking for at least 30 minutes every day allows you to prevent weight gain. It can also strengthen the muscles in your legs and tone your legs.
Helps to boost the immune system
Walking helps boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in your body. A 2005 study measured the white blood cell count of 15 adults before and after a 30-minute walk and found a significant increase in the cell count. Another study showed that individuals who walked regularly had a reduced risk of falling sick.
Increases energy levels
A study found that previously inactive adults reported feeling energized and less tired after just 20 minutes of low-impact exercise like walking. Walking boosts the oxygen levels in your body. This increase in oxygen levels allows your body to function better.
Helps to boost your mood
Walking can boost your mood by increasing blood circulation and blood flow to the body and brain. This positively impacts your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, responsible for your stress response. It helps you calm your nerves, which makes you feel less stressed. It also leads to the release of endorphins, your body’s natural happy drugs.
Eases joint pain
One research found that walking was a safe and convenient physical activity for people with arthritis. It helps alleviate joint pain- especially knees and hips by strengthening the muscles that support them. Walking is good for your knee joints as it sends more nutrients and blood to these areas, which ease the pain and help them feel better.
How to stay motivated?
- Make walking a habit- If you have to travel a short distance, walk to your destination instead of using your vehicle.
- Make walking fun- Ask your friends to join you, put on your favorite music, change your walking route, walk at a park, etc.
- Record your progress- Use an app to track your steps and distance and keep tracking your progress to stay motivated.