Some of us aim for intense physical exercise, breaking a good sweat and finishing exhausted and sore. Fortunately, you don’t need to go to these lengths to get benefits from moving your body. Today, we’re going to talk about the benefits of one of the most basic motions: walking.
One of the reasons I like walking, and why I recommend it so often, is that nearly everyone can participate. There are some injuries and diseases that prevent it, but these are rare. Walking is one of the things that our bodies are designed to do, and at length. After all, it’s how we originally migrated to all the corners of the globe that we all now live in. It’s a motion that, when done mindfully, uses all the major muscle groups.
Because walking uses so many muscles, and creates a rhythm of motion in the body, it’s fantastic for improving circulation of blood and lymph in the body. Not only does this mean that nutrients are better able to reach our tissues, but we’ll have an easier time detoxing waste products. And who doesn’t love an easy detox?
One of the most major ways walking is great is how it helps the body balance hormones. Insulin control and estrogen dominance are pretty big issues these days. Walking close to meal times makes it easier for our bodies to use the glucose in our blood, so it will be easier to manage our weight.
One of the greatest benefits of frequent, long walks is that it helps us live longer. It combats the effects of sitting for hours on end, and rejuvenates the muscles that tend to weaken and atrophy while sitting in an office, on the couch, etc. Walking vastly improves brain function as well. It can improve learning, and even give a boost to your creative processes, increasing problem solving abilities in all areas of your life.
And after a long, hard, stressful day, walking is one of the best ways to calm down that stress. It lowers cortisol, which is chronically elevated in many people. The best way to use walking for stress reduction is to go out in nature, whether it’s a city park or an untamed forest. There’s a good reason so many people like long walks on the beach!
And finally, walking has been shown to improve the function of our immune system. Even if you don’t suffer from frequent colds, walking longer and more often will improve the response of your killer T cells, making it easier to avoid illnesses, and get better faster when you do catch whatever is going around.
So in the end, while high intensity exercise has benefits, walking is the best thing you can do for yourself. It’s easy, it’s accessible, and it will vastly improve your life. Grab a buddy and have a walking chat, or put on your headphones and listen to music or podcasts. Now go enjoy some fresh air!