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The Underrated Benefits Of Walking You Need To Know

There is no perfect solution that will help you shed weight, get energized, and rekindle your passion for living overnight. But I can tell you one comes pretty damn close. 

Walking is one of the most underrated and valuable activities you can add to your life to boost your health and reach your fitness goals. It takes minimal effort, requires no equipment or athletic abilities, and generates amazing results over time.

Today, we’ll traverse the topic of walking, taking it one step at a time. We’ll talk about the benefits of walking, how much you have to walk to gain said benefits, and how to make walking a lifelong habit you actually enjoy. 

So, strap on your sneakers, and let’s start moving:

Sitting is the New Smoking!

This rings true! Just take a peek at these few facts to see how close the two are to one another: 

Pretty crazy stuff, right?

There’s a way to combat these fatal practices without having to flip your life around 180 degrees. Walking can counter the effects of constant sitting and in turn, yield massive benefits to your long-term wellness. 

Let’s take a look at the rewards of putting one foot in front of the other and understanding how this simple activity can transform your health. 

The Benefits of Walking

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We already walk every day, but there’s a difference between walking to the fridge for a snack and proactively going outside for a few neighborhood laps.

Here are the top 12 reasons to start and keep walking today…

Walking gets you fit.

  • Walking will help you burn calories, increase your metabolism, and maintain a healthy weight. It also may be more effective at giving you an energy boost than grabbing a cup of coffee. 
  • Walking will make it easier to eat healthier. Two studies from the University of Exeter found that walking tames a sweet tooth, reduces cravings, and will help lower your intake of sugary snacks. 
  • Walking will genetically change your body to make it lose weight easier. Harvard researchers found that walking counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes, cutting their effects in half. 

Walking benefits your physical health.

Walking is great for your mind.

Walking will help you live better, longer.

  • Walking can reduce your risk of chronic disease. It can lower blood sugar, it lowers blood pressure by as much as 11 points, and it can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 40%. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by an amazing 30%.
  • Walking could add years to your life. An analysis of 11 surveys found that people who walk regularly had significantly lower mortality risks. 
  • Walking also helps people stay connected to loved ones. A meta-study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that people who walked with friends were significantly less depressed. Group walks with friends bolster our emotional support system!

How Much Walking Brings the Biggest Benefits?

To experience all of the amazing benefits listed above, shoot for at least 20 minutes of walking a day or 10K total daily steps. During your walk, you’ll probably experience those energy-boosting effects, so feel free to keep going if you’re feeling energized. 

Since sitting is the new smoking and walking is the new running, there are many convenient tools available to help you get those steps in. For a classic, clip-on pedometer, check out the Omron Alvita. Looking for a slick wristband? You’ll like the popular Fitbit Inspire 2. If you don’t want to invest in a tool, you can always use your phone to track your daily steps. 

If this amount of walking is a big jump from your current activity, you can still capture the benefits of walking without pushing yourself overboard. Rather than putting yourself at risk for injury, start at your own pace. Researchers have found that walking for 30 minutes (even if that time is split up into three 10-minute walks) three days a week can bring a big health boost. 

Find whatever pace and cadence work for you, and make sure the process is enjoyable with the following five tips. 

5 Ways to Relish in Walking

What’s the point of talking about walking if tread never touches the pavement? Walking has many life-altering rewards when it becomes a lifestyle habit. Add walking into your daily routine, and up your chances of sticking with it for the long-haul by trying out these five tips:

Go Shoe Shopping

The right pair of walking shoes can make all the difference. Bad shoes are not only uncomfortable, but improper footwear is the leading cause of typical walking and running injuries, like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis. If you’re not sure what to buy, specialty running and walking shoe stores have people on staff who are experts on shoe fitting. Before hitting the road, get yourself a solid pair of walking shoes.

For some extra help finding the perfect pair, check out Adidas’ Guide to Picking Running Shoes.

Turn on a Talk or Tunes

Listening to music, a podcast, or interesting talk increases our enjoyment of walking. One recent study found that our brains actually give us a feel-good boost—with a 38% increase in enjoyment when walking with music on, and a 25% increase in enjoyment when walking with a podcast playing. Once you’re ready to head out on foot, put on your favorite playlist and make your walk feel even more invigorating. 

Add Additional Challenges

Increase your engagement and sense of post-walk satisfaction by creating challenges for yourself. Set realistic goals you can hit each week, like hitting the hills, using hand or ankle weights, picking up the pace, or extending your walking time. Make sure these goals are fun and motivating, not burdensome or defeating. Seeing yourself improve and reach the goals you set will not only improve your enjoyment of walking but will boost your self-esteem and increase all the many benefits that come with walking. 

Pair Up With A Partner

The benefits of buddying up with a walking partner or friend are numerous. A walking buddy will keep you accountable, challenge and support you in your health goals, and keep the activity fun. Plus, some research suggests that walking with a partner helps couples have better conflict resolution. Before you lace up, link up with a walking buddy who can join in.

Get Outdoors

Being outside is great for our health. It makes us happier, less stressed, and more creative. It increases our memory and focus, lowers inflammation and blood pressure, boosts our immune systems, and helps us fight off stress and sad moods. Double up on the health benefits of walking with all those good-feeling perks of being outside by ditching the treadmill and hitting the trails. 

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Walking can sound too good to be true and maybe you’re thinking, “there must be a catch”—and there is. 

In order to gain all these many benefits, walking has to become a long-term habit that you maintain as part of a healthy lifestyle. If sticking with a new healthy habit sounds hard to you, or if you want to gain all the benefits of joining a strong support system that can keep you moving along your health journey, join the LEAN program

For more help reaching your fitness goals, sign up for the weekly LEAN newsletter, and get our top health tips delivered straight to your inbox. 

 

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