April 6th is officially National Walking Day so what better way to celebrate than to walk you through all the amazing benefits of getting active & incorporating more walks into your daily routine?
As walking is such a low-impact activity that most people can participate in, it is easy to forget that it is still a cardiovascular activity that has a genuine benefit to our health. Walking does not require any specific skill, it is unlikely to aggravate any past injuries and you don’t need any fancy equipment - just a comfortable pair of shoes!
Starting off small with just a 15-30 mins walk is a great way to up your activity and improve your physical and mental health. The more you walk and the further your distance, the more you will notice the benefits of the activity. Here are just a few of them!
Helps Maintain Healthy Body Weight
As walking is a cardiovascular activity, it increases your heart rate and in turn burns calories. This is great for anyone looking to get healthier and lose some body fat, to work towards maintaining a healthy body weight. It is not high-impact so it’s not as difficult as running or HIT training, making it a great starting point for anyone embarking on a fitness journey or feeling intimidated by more intense actviity.
Eases Joint Pain
You may be surprised to find out that resting too much can make stiff or painful joints worse. Engaging in very light activity and keeping your body moving is much better for aiding recovery, especially as you get older. This is also the case for those experiencing mechanical back pain - keeping yourself moving with low impact activity like walking will help improve symptoms and stop the stiffening or seizing up of problem areas.
Boots Immune Function & Energy Levels
A study found that being active and walking during the winter is linked to improved immune function and reduced risk of cold and flu viruses for those who walked at least 20 mins a day. As walking increases oxygen flow throughout the body, is it also effective in sustaining or even improving energy levels. One study found walking to be even more effective than a cup of coffee, when it comes to boosting energy!
Multiple studies have found walking to be beneficial for improving symptoms of anxiety, depression and low mood. It can also help to boost self-esteem and reduce feelings of social withdrawal. Most people who take daily walks report improved mood and feelings of calm afterwards - ask some friends & find out why they enjoy walking so much!
Walking is a great tool for clearing your head and promoting creative thinking. Studies have found that walking helps individuals to brainstorm new ideas, improve creative flow and get physical activity at the same time. We would always recommend a walk on your lunch break during your working day to refresh your mind, clear your thoughts and get your creativity flowing.
Strengthens the Cardiovascular System
Studies have found that walking a minimum of 30 mins per day is effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, by strengthening the cardiovascular system. 30 mins a day is something that is also an achievable target for most people - meaning you can promote heart health with low-impact activity that doesn’t take up a lot of your time.
With so many health benefits, it’s easy to see why walking has become a daily activity for anyone trying to improve their health. Here are some of our top tips to make your walk safe, comfortable and fun:
- Wear comfortable shoes - nobody wants blisters cutting their walk short
- Maximise safety by sticking to well-lit, familiar areas
- Listen to a podcast on your walk
- Try a new route to avoid repetitive walks
- Set yourself distance goals and try and improve on them each week
- Walk with a friend
- Grab a takeaway tea or coffee while you are out
- Stay hydrated
- Wear comfortable clothes or activewear
- Invest in a waterproof jacket for wet weather
If you haven’t discovered the joy of walking yet, we would encourage you to go for a short, 30 minute walk and try some of our tips above to make it as enjoyable as possible. With the possibility of getting physically healthy, feeling good, improving creativity… there is no reason to not try it out for yourself!
Nieman DC, Henson DA, Austin MD, et alUpper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adultsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2011;45:987-992.
Derek D. Randolph, Patrick J. O'Connor, Stair walking is more energizing than low dose caffeine in sleep deprived young women, Physiology & Behavior,
Volume 174, 2017, Pages 128-135, ISSN 0031-9384
Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a
Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142–1152. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036577