The New Year is here and one simple and easy method to stay on top of your health and fitness goals in 2021 and beyond is to walk.
Of the many benefits that we’ll cover in this blog post when it comes to walking, you don’t need fancy footwear, a gym membership, or even expensive equipment to do it!
Even during the cold winter months, you can find comfort in walking around a local shopping center to get your steps in.
If you lead a busy life and find it difficult to incorporate time that’s solely dedicated to walking, there are other ways to help fit in more walking throughout your day, and they include:
- Taking your dog for a walk (or volunteering to walk dogs at a local shelter if you don’t have one of your own)
- Listening to music or a podcast during your lunch break
- Parking farther away from the entrance
- Taking the stairs
You may be surprised to know that the required “10,000 steps per day” that we hear about is nothing more than a marketing campaign from a Japanese pedometer inventor dating back to 19651.
While setting a goal of 10,000 steps is a good starting point to staying active and healthy, a more accurate way of maintaining health and wellness is to follow the Department of Health and Human Services weekly exercise guidelines2 :
- Perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (you can maintain a conversation while performing)
- Perform 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (while performing this type of exercise, it’ll be difficult to hold a conversation)
- Strength train all major muscle groups at least two times a week
Now that you see the requirements of weekly exercise, here are six reasons for you to get up and take a walk today!
- Walking reduces stress, lifts your mood, decreases depression, and increases self-esteem by releasing your body’s natural “mood-lifting drugs” otherwise known as endorphins.3
- Walking lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, and gives you more energy. Regular walkers have lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and strokes, and higher levels of HDL (healthy cholesterol)4
- Walking helps people experience a major dip in snack cravings during and after a 15-minute walk. Research suggests daily walking helps limit your cravings throughout the day.5
- Walking has been shown to improve the longevity of life. A study reported that women who walked over 4,400 steps per day had significantly lower premature mortality compared to inactive women6, with a different study concluding that people who walked over 8,800 steps a day averaged 30 percent less time spent in the hospital when compared to those who walked less7 .
- Walking improves creativity. Research has demonstrated that even a 15-minute walk can help improve both convergent and divergent thinking, which will aid in both creativity and problem solving8 .
- Walking helps you lose weight and boosts your metabolism. It’s not much of a surprise, but the more active you are, the more weight you lose and the higher your metabolism will likely be. Weight loss can have significant benefits to your overall health and wellbeing. In fact, with every pound of weight loss, you have four pounds less pressure on your knees9 .
As you can see, the benefits of walking cannot be overstated, and better yet, it’s free!
So we encourage you to lace up your walking shoes and go enjoy a walk today!
Matt Turner, PT, DPT, CMPT, graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 2015 where he started working for Phoenix Physical Therapy in Pottsville, PA. His specialties include the treatment of orthopedic and sports injuries, as well as occupational-related injuries. Matt opened the first Phoenix Physical Therapy clinic in North Carolina, where he now lives with his wife, Rachael, and son, Everett, in Charlotte.