It’s an established fact that staying physically active will keep you healthy. It can be a vigorous exercise like sprinting or a simple one like brisk walking. All these exercises will ensure that you are maintaining a healthy weight, preventing or managing conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure, and strengthening muscles and bones.
Apart from physiological benefits, walking also helps elevates mood and improves balance and coordination.
Boosts Metabolism and Burns Excess Fat
Walking can help burn fact and increases metabolism and heart rate. Brisk walking or moderate walking for an extended period of time (an hour or so) can accelerate your metabolic rate, helping burn excessive fat that is otherwise not good for your health. Also, walking increases the body’s demand for energy, again resulting in the expenditure of stored fat.
Contrary to common belief, walking after dinner also helps aid digestion. Walking stimulates the digestive tract which speeds up the movement of food through the stomach. Moreover, it has also been noted that walking reduces elevated blood sugar levels after a meal, hence decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and potential signal diabetes.
Helps the Mind Relax
Apart from physiological benefits, walking also helps relieve stress and anxiety. Research has shown that taking a brisk walk or a jog literally directs nerve cells in the brain to become calmer and relaxed. If you are feeling stressed or you are not able to think clearly, just get into your walking shoes (literally) and go out for a walk.
Promotes Well-being of the Eyes
A lesser known merit of walking is the benefit on your eyesight. Walking helps in relieving eye pressure, which can be extremely beneficial in preventing complications such as glaucoma.
Walking a lot – Good or Bad?
To enjoy the complete benefits of walking, exercising good judgment and planning a careful regime is extremely important. The volume and intensity of your workout must gradually increase so that the body can adapt and adjust.
If you’re adhering to the recommended exercise guidelines, i.e. 30 minutes of walk per day, five days a week, you’re good to go and probably won’t experience any negative effects. However, indulging in excessive walking, such as a marathon or some other ultra-endurance sport, can exert a significant burden on the heart, resulting in temporary reduced functionality.
Even though the body usually recovers from this decreased physiological optimality in about a week, the long-term negative health effects of participating in such high-intensity exercises can significantly outweigh the positives of moderate physical activity.
Chances of Physical Injuries
Walking for extended periods of time on asphalt and concrete can result in shin splits, an injury caused to the lower leg. Moreover, walking in uncomfortable, worn out or incorrectly fitting shoes may also cause injuries as well as foot/leg pain and blisters.
Walking for a Healthy You – Finding the Right Balance
Whenever you’re planning an exercise program, always start gradually and slowly increase the time and intensity. Here’s how you can go ahead with your regime:
- Start with 15 minutes of moderate walking
- Add a few minutes every week, finally reaching 30 minutes and increase the pace of walking from moderate to brisk
In order to enjoy the complete physiological and psychological benefits of walking, walk for no less than three days a week. Whatever your aim – weight loss, strength-building or endurance – walking for less than this period will not deliver the desired benefits. Moreover, engaging in other forms of exercise in addition to walking, such as strength training, balance and flexibility exercises is also a good regime for achieving overall health and fitness.
No one can deny that walking is highly beneficial for the body and mind. However, before adopting walking as an exercise regime, it’s important to take all required safety precautions and consider the recommendations prescribed by professionals.