Being outdoors and spending time in nature is one of our core values here at Ducktail. With our raincoats we go miles and miles of walks all year long and this is what keeps us full of energy no matter the weather. In this blog post we have compiled the biggest benefits of walking daily – both for your physical and mental health. Let’s explore them!
The easiness of walking
Physical activity does not have to be vigorous in order to improve your health. Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace.
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions.
Walk to get fit
Walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles. Walking wards off heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart.
A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to weight dropped, if this is your goal. Also, when walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.
If you haven’t been training for a while, daily walks are a great way to bring you back to shape. Half an hour is not a big deal, when you see the bigger picture.
Walk to stay healthy
If shedding some weight is not on your list – then walk in order to stay healthy. Walking can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York.
Walking may reduce your risk for developing a cold or the flu. One study tracked 1,000 adults during flu season. Those who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day had 43 percent fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections overall.
Their symptoms were also lessened if they did get sick. That was compared to adults in the study who were sedentary.
Research finds that people who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35% less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45% less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.
Walk to boost your mood and creative thinking
Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. Studies show it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal. To experience these benefits, aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate intensity exercise daily. You can also break it up into three 10-minute walks.
Walking may help clear your head and help you think creatively. A study that included four experiments compared people trying to think of new ideas while they were walking or sitting. Researchers found participants did better while walking, particularly while walking outdoors. The researchers concluded that walking opens up a free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physical activity at the same time.
Some tips on how to start
Do not forget to warm up – it is a physical activity, after all. The best way to warm up is to walk slowly. Start off each walk at a leisurely pace to give your muscles time to warm up, and then pick up the speed. Afterwards, gently stretch your leg muscles – particularly your calves and front and back thighs. Stretches should be held for about 20 seconds. If you feel any pain, ease off the stretch.
Choose an appropriate footwear. Walking is a low-cost and effective form of exercise. However, the wrong type of shoe or walking action can cause foot or shin pain, blisters and injuries to soft tissue. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, with appropriate heel and arch supports. Take light, easy steps and make sure your heel touches down before your toes. Whenever possible, walk on grass rather than concrete to help absorb the impact.
Make it interesting
- If you want to stick close to home and limit your walking to neighbourhood streets, pick different routes so you don’t get tired of seeing the same sights.
- If you feel unsafe walking alone, find one or more friends or family members to walk with.
- Drive to different places, park the car and enjoy the views while you walk.
- Explore what’s going on around you, notice the sky, the people, the sounds.
We hope you got inspired to incorporate more walks in your daily routine. A fresh breath of oxygen was never a bad idea. Keep motivated, keep walking!