Walking is not a brand new, topsy turvy, spur of the moment fad for health improvement.
The benefits of physical activity are not new to us. We know that we should be active at least 30 minutes a day. We also know that we should eat more green food and that the sky is blue.
But did you know that the simple act of walking provides health benefits across our entire lifespan?
Walking is one of the first things a baby learns. It is an important part of participating in society (which is why accessibility is so important for those with mobility concerns). Walking is what makes us human. Bipedalism – the ability to walk on two feet – is one of the first traits to separate us from our great ape cousins.
The Ultimate Low-Intensity Workout
Another amazing pro of walking is its intensity can change with you. You wouldn’t expect a toddler to walk 7 miles, and sometimes it’s okay to avoid that massive hill you know is up ahead. This exercise can be customized to your skill level and fitness goals, while lowering blood pressure, contributing to weight loss, and improving aerobic capacity.
So why should you do it? Why is walking the ultimate low-intensity workout?
According to researchers, a weekly forest walk increased both their health awareness and promotion and decreased stress while providing relaxation and improved mental health in university students (Bang et al. 2017). Walking even once a week lowered levels of depression and anxiety while improving physical health!
But wait! There’s more!
Young adults evidently benefit from walking as a form of exercise, but does this value continue as we age? I am here to tell you, that yes, walking is a valuable form of exercise throughout your life. If anything, the benefits of walking improve as we age!
In fact, studies are beginning to show that walking daily is associated with a larger hippocampus. For those who don’t know, the hippocampus is largely responsible for memory in our brains, and supporting its health is significant in reducing chances of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Walking, even low-intensity walking, increases the size of the hippocampus, especially in women (Varma et al. 2014) This improves memory, and overall health and wellness in the golden years.
Why Should You Start Walking?
You should walk because it’s good for you. Walking improves mental health AND physical health. It contributes to memory function, which we all know is important to protect.
More importantly, you should walk because you want to. Because walking gives us a chance to interact with our beautiful and wacky world. And because we’ve all been spending a little too much time in the house lately.
So I challenge you to walk the walk, and take charge of your health today!
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