Updated: Mar 25
It’s Something We Do Daily!
Can you imagine packing your things and taking a stroll around the entire distance of the planet Earth? This would be the equivalent of 24,901 miles from start to finish. I can’t fathom walking this amount of distance, yet throughout an average person’s lifespan, we accomplish this feat no less than five times. In most cases, to achieve this number, you have to live to the ripe age of 80 and walk at least an average of 7500 steps per day, which is something we all statistically do. This brings us back to the 7500 step average, which I had written about in an earlier post.
For years, the misnomer was that we had to walk roughly 10,000 steps/day to live a healthy life. As discussed in the above article, any walking proves beneficial, but the real question is “Why is it beneficial?”.
For the most part, walking is one of the minor jarring exercises one can do. It is less impact meaning less stressful on one’s joints, and with this comes several positive things, as reported by the Arthritis Foundation.
1. Walking Boosts Circulation
Walking wards off heart disease brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart. Post-menopausal women who walk just one to two miles a day can lower their blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks. According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, women who walk 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20% and by 40% when they step up the pace.
2. Shore Up Your Bones
Walking can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York. One study of postmenopausal women found that 30 minutes of walking each day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40%.
3. Enjoy a Longer Life
Research finds that people who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35% less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45% less likely for those with underlying health conditions.
4. Lighten Your Mood
Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body — one of the emotional benefits of exercise. A California State University, Long Beach study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were.
5. Lose Weight
A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped.
6. Strengthen Muscles
Walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles — and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles.
7. Improve Sleep
Studies found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk
8. Support Your Joints
The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from joint fluid that circulates as we move. Movement and compression from walking “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area.
9. Improve Your Breath
When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.
10. Slow Down Mental Decline
A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17% decline in memory, as opposed to a 25% decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.
11. Lower Alzheimer’s Risk
A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who walked less.
12. Do More for Longer
Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living for people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management found.