There are many people in the world who cannot walk. Those who can may take their ability for granted. There’s no doubt that a sedentary lifestyle (sitting and lying down a lot with little to no exercise) is detrimental to your health. People who are sedentary by no fault of their own (i.e. spinal cord injury patients) are at increased risk for serious health problems. If you’re able to walk, you should do it on a daily basis! You might wind up enjoying it, and you’ll definitely be glad for the physical and emotional health benefits you gain by walking on a regular basis!
Emotional health benefits from walking include less depression
Studies show that taking daily walks has many health benefits, including a lessening of symptoms of depression. This is especially true for middle-aged women who suffer from the condition. In fact, data shows that walking for 30 minutes per day may reduce depression more than 30%, which is definitely a significant improvement. Researchers in Australia conducted a study that substantiated these claims. Women who participated in the study who walked a little more than three hours per week said they felt an increased desire to socialize with others. Participants also said they had more energy and felt improvement in their emotional health.
Have you ever noticed that a change of scenery helps you feel better when you’re feeling down? A lot of people say that listening to certain types of music, whether upbeat and festive or calming and relaxing, boosts their mood, as well. Consider putting these two things together by taking a walk outdoors while listening to music to help improve your emotional well-being!
Walking has physical and emotional health benefits that fight obesity
As of 2020, the obesity rate in the United States has exceeded 40% of the population. By all means, this constitutes a medical health crisis. There is ample proof that people who are obese do not fare well if they contract the virus known as COVID-19. In fact, most fatalities that have occurred from the virus involved people who were overweight or had underlying health conditions caused by obesity.
The good news is that one of the physical and emotional health benefits of incorporating walking into your daily exercise regimen is that it may lower your risk for obesity. If you spend an hour of each day walking, you might have 50% less chance of developing obesity than people who live a sedentary lifestyle. Even if you’re not obese but feel that you are carrying more pounds than is healthy for your stature, taking a brisk walk every day may help you shed some extra pounds.
Improve your brain health by walking
A number of issues can take a toll on your cognitive health, especially memory skills. Aging typically causes a natural decline in brain health. A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle exacerbates the problem, for sure. Walking for 40 minutes several times per week may help improve your memory skills. When you go for a walk, it sends increased blood flow to your brain. More blood flow to the brain increases cognitive function. Not only can a regular walking program help strengthen memory skills, it may also help you prevent neurological diseases such as dementia.
Taking a brisk walk (as opposed to a leisurely stroll) three times per week may improve memory and thinking skills in as little as six months’ time. The reason we become forgetful and suffer cognitive decline as we age is that our brains actually shrink. Increasing blood flow to the brain by walking rejuvenates the white matter, which combats the cognitive effects of shrinking.
Walking is a wonderful family activity
Walking is something you can do alone. If you do, make sure you take safety precautions. Avoid remote areas and always carry your cell phone. Walking is also a great way to spend time as a family! The earlier in life that kids learn about the importance of physical exercise, the better! Every family member will reap the health benefits of a regular walking routine. Younger children may not be able to keep as brisk of a pace as the adults in your family. For this reason, you might want to take a few walks per week without the kids, then several more as a whole family.
Taking a family walk opens a whole world of learning opportunities for kids, as well. Children are naturally curious and are thrilled by the sights and sounds of nature. When they grow up taking a brisk walk, several times a week, they will likely develop a deeper appreciation of the world around them. They’ll also be less likely to suffer from obesity and other ill-health problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
We’re coming to the end of 2021, which is a good time to set goals for the year ahead. Why not make a regular brisk walking routine part of your 2022 plan? Your brain, your body and your emotional well-being will reap the physical and emotional health benefits! You can walk around your yard or neighborhood. Many people enjoy walking around the track at a local high school, as well. Perhaps you’ll want to hit some of the walking trails in your area. If so, there are a few standard rules of etiquette you’ll want to know. You can learn more about them in this article from our archives.