Whilst being the most convenient way to stay fit, walking was heralded as ‘a man’s best medicine’ by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago. As well as being a great way to get some fresh air and explore our surroundings, walking has a number of benefits for our health and wellbeing. Whether it’s a quick stroll or a long scenic hike, the experts at Shakti Himalaya have listed 7 ways walking can do wonders for your health.
1 It improves fitness
Walking is one of the easiest approaches to getting active and improving your overall fitness. Not only is it an exercise that is ideal for all age groups, but a quick ten-minute stroll every day can improve your blood pressure, manage joint and muscular pain, make your bones stronger and reduce body fat. By incorporating regular walking into your routine, you are also at lesser risk of developing cardiovascular disease and major health problems such as type 2 diabetes.
2 It lowers your stress levels
As well as benefiting your physical health, walking also can help your mental health. Like other types of aerobic exercise, walking promotes the production of endorphins in your brain, which helps to improve your overall mood. Focusing on your surroundings as you walk can also help you feel more present and relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety.
3 It makes you greener
Needless to say, walking is a far more environmentally friendly way to travel. As well as not contributing to air pollution, you are breathing in less exhaust fumes that can cause respiratory problems such as asthma. Less traffic noise, fewer road accidents and money savings are also added benefits to going green and choosing to walk.
4 It sparks the imagination
Walking is the best exercise for your imagination, too. Research shows that taking time out of your busy day to walk can lead you to discover new gems and stimulate creative thinking. When you walk, try to change your perception. This could simply be by observing what’s really going on around you or actively searching for hidden places you’ve never been to before. Whatever it is, pay attention and you are sure to be inspired.
5 It enables you to sleep
Poor sleep leads to poor health. Whilst falling asleep is easy for some individuals, approximately 10% of us have experienced chronic insomnia at some point. A post meal stroll will not only help to keep blood sugar levels under control, but it creates the hormone melatonin that helps you fall asleep. Studies show that a walk will benefit your sleep as long as it is three hours before you go to bed, so give it a go next time you are struggling to doze off.
6 It works your flexibility and balance
As we get older, we lose some of our flexibility and balance that we so often take for granted. Walking, as a low impact exercise, builds on your lower body strength which is important for balance. It also keeps up the flexibility of your joints by stretching your hip flexors, calf muscles, arms and shoulders. This full range of motion maintains your whole body’s strength and health.
7 It improves your memory
As well as being a natural mood booster, going for a walk is great for getting out of a cognitive haze and working your brain’s memory function. Whilst being a mild workout to clear your mind in the morning, studies have shown that walking appears to boost the size of the hippocampus- the part of the brain that promotes learning new information and verbal memory. Also, as you remember new walking routes, you are forced to concentrate on where you are heading which will improve your memory.