1. It keeps your buttocks engaged with the world.
Research and common sense suggest that too much sitting causes glute inactivation and atrophy. This istrue, but it’s not like simply standing is enough to keep them strong and engaged. You have to walk, and walk often.
2. It modestly reduces body fat.
Let’s face it, walking isn’t going to get you ripped. It might not be as effective on a minute for minute basis as other forms of exercise, but frequent walking will help anyone with two functioning legs and hip and knee joints that allow movement who would otherwise mold into the couch.
3. It improves glycemic control, especially after meals.
Studies show that just 15 minutes of walking after eating improved the blood glucose control in older people with poor glucose tolerance. Try to keep the walk as close to the meal as possible to aid in weight loss.
4. It improves triglyceride levels and lowers blood pressure, especially after meals.
Whether short (ten 3-minute period of brisk walking) or longer (one 30-minute period of brisk walking), briskly walking after a meal lowers blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
5. It’s good for your brain.
Walking does much more than work the area underneath your neck. It also has extensive cognitive benefits, improving memory in seniors, cognitive control and academic performance in preadolescents The farther an older person can walk in six minutes, the better he or she performs on memory and logic tests; those who perform poorly on the walking test tend to have reduced grey matter volume in certain sections of their brains.
6. It gives you energy
It may seem like a paradox (and the last thing you might feel like) but a brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. It wakes up stiff joints and eases muscle tension so you feel less sluggish.
7. It can reduce stress.
What do I do when I need to get away from a particularly stressful day in “the real world”? Go for a walk, preferably a natural setting. For others, it might be the woods or even a park. Sure enough, going for a walk in the woods is a reliable way to lower cortisol levels.
8. It gives you a chance to think.
When we walk, we think. And because walking is a low-difficulty endeavor, we can direct our executive functioning to more internal matters. We work through problems, come up with ideas, replay conversations and discover solutions.
9. It can be a kind of meditation.
Meditation is a foreign concept for many people; we know about it, but we don’t know it. Even when we want to try it, having read about the benefits, we can’t quite disciple ourselves to sit still for twenty, thirty minutes at a time. This is where walking meditation comes into play.
10. It’s in your genes.
Walking has been shown to positively affect the genes responsible for fat and carbohydrate metabolism in skeletal muscle, to reduce inflammatory gene expression pathways in adipose tissue, and to lower oxidative and inflammatory gene expression pathways in older adults.
Now it’s your turn. Do you walk every day? Do you walk “enough”? Do you plan on walking more this year?
Most studies showing the benefits of walking have people walk for ten, fifteen, thirty minutes at a time. That’s a lunch break. That’s parking in the last lot. That’s stealing a few moments away from your desk. It’s doable, you just have to choose to do it.