1. Lowers Your Stress Levels
Active meditation is simply moving while remaining present to clear the head. Walking can be a great way to clear your mind and reduce stress. Getting out in nature is also proven to help reduce anxiety, as is being around animals – which is ideal if you’re taking your dogs out for a stroll. Any kind of exercise helps your body to produce endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers – and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn, lowers stress levels.
2. Regulates Your Blood Pressure
There’s now a huge body of evidence that has shown walking daily can lower blood pressure. In fact, a recent Australian study found that just 30 minutes of brisk walking every morning may be as effective as medication at lowering your blood pressure for the rest of the day. As we already mentioned, any aerobic activity makes your heart stronger and much more efficient. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, in turn, lowering your blood pressure.
3. Aids In Weight Loss
In very basic terms, the more you move overall, the more calories you will burn. Walking is especially good for those looking to reduce body fat; brisk walking for 45 minutes mobilises the body to dip into fat reserves for energy. Aim to get your heart rate to around the 140bmp mark and keep it up for 45 minutes plus. Another reason walking is so effective it it’s actually enjoyable, which means you’re more like to do it daily and fit it in around your schedule. It’s one of the most inclusive forms of exercise available, you can do it anytime and anywhere – and it’s free!
4. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Some studies show that walking is actually the best exercise for sedentary individuals, especially adults, to reduce the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases. Try and get out for a stroll as often as possible to really reap the benefits – at least five days a week will keep the heart strong and healthy. Life, of course, can get in the way, but just try and squeeze in ten minutes where possible – a little activity is better than nothing at all. Even if it’s walking to a station or bus stop instead of driving, or getting off a few stops before your destination to get those steps in. I also recommend choosing the stairs instead of the lift everyday – especially on the underground and in shops as it’s the easiest way to maintain momentum.
5. Strengthens Your Muscles
Though, it’s worth noting, this is quite subjective to the person that’s walking. If, however, you’re doing dedicated fast walks, you will find you’re building muscles much quicker than those who are just on a stroll. If building strength is a personal goal, try incorporating more stairs and hills into your walks and take two big steps up at a time when you’re climbing the stairs to get a good stretch and further tone your leg muscles.
6. Boosts Your Metabolism
Your Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories you expend at rest just to keep the normal functions of our body going. It’s mostly influenced by your age, gender and genetics, but it is true that walking can help to increase your metabolic rate. It does this by building muscle, as muscle tissue uses energy at rest, unlike fat tissue. You also use more energy in the period of recovery after a long walk, so if you exercise regularly, you can keep your BMR higher for longer. With walking, these effects are most likely to be observed in beginners – if you want to keep it going and continue to build muscle, it’s best to keep challenging yourself with faster and steeper walks.
Tim Hayes is a celebrity trainer and founder of PT Collective ‘Peach’, for more information visit GetPeach.com.