Why is walking good for your health? You will almost certainly have heard the ubiquitous recommendation that we should all be walking 10000 steps per day. You may also be asking yourself “Why is 10000 the magic number?” and “Why is walking so good?”. While there has been some research since the 1960s which has satisfied the scientists, it would seem that the recommended number of steps was initially no more than a clever marketing campaign for a pedometer released shortly before the Olympic games in 1964. I can only speculate that the campaign was so successful because it was a realistic goal, it was more than most people were doing, and that the people who actually increased their walking saw great benefits.
In answer to the second question, I have put together some of the best answers to the question – why is walking good for your health?
We Burn More Calories Whilst We Are Walking
There is no question as to whether exercise is good for weight management but is walking good exercise? I am 250lbs (it seems heavy but I am 6’4″). Based on my weight, I could walk 10000 steps equating to about 5 miles and I would burn 665 calories at a casual pace. The health benefits of walking might mean you do not feel so guilty for that extra piece of bacon at breakfast.
Weight, walking speed and distance will all have an impact on how good your walk will be for burning calories but we will definitely burn more if we walk more, and if we are looking to lose weight, there is no easier way than by walking more.
You should check out my article on Walking Workouts to Lose Weight if you’d like to know how to reap those health benefits and lose weight while walking.
Why is walking good for building muscles? We are all carrying the weight of our bodies when we are walking and our legs carry the burden for most of that. While generally, our legs are used to our body weight adding incline into your walk can really increase the resistance allowing us to build muscle strength and tone, great news for those of us who want the health benefits and those of us who just want to look good in a skirt or shorts.
Great ways to achieve this are by taking the stairs more, walking up escalators (if it is safe to do so, of course), or by hiking on uneven terrain.
If you do choose a good countryside walk where the terrain is uneven, try taking walking poles with you. When used properly walking poles are good for transferring some of the required energy from your legs to your triceps and shoulders and back muscles proving that walking is good for a well-rounded workout.
Walking is a Great Low Impact Cardio Workout
We already know that walking is a great method of burning calories and building muscles so it’s even better to learn that walking is low impact so is good for people who want to get out and walk on their own terms. So while some exercises may be risky for those of us with health conditions, walking is also a great opportunity for people who are overweight, elderly, or who haven’t exercised in a long time to step up their health and fitness game.
Whatever your level of fitness, raising your walking heart rate will provide heart health benefits without the risks associated with more rigorous exercises
Walking is a Great Form of Meditation
In its simplest of definitions, meditation is the practice of focussing the mind and is used to train awareness and influence mindset. Walking is a good way to clear your mind for a while and just enjoy the moment.
Whether I am walking in the city surrounded by beautiful architecture, or close to woodland and countryside, I find that walking is a good way to clear my head of all my troubles and just be a part of the world around me.
Don’t take my word for it, If there comes a time when you feel anxious, angry, or just overwhelmed, take a walk and try to focus only on what’s happening around you. You’re welcome.
Walking Might Be an Effective Antidepressant
There is an entire subreddit dedicated to exercising out of depression and even the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom promotes exercise to boost your mood.
Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.
“Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,” says Dr Alan Cohen, a GP with a special interest in mental health.
The internet and the health experts seem to agree that walking has a positive effect on our mental health.
Walking is Simple
So now you know that this simple exercise that most of you are doing every day can be utilized to improve your mental and physical health, what is stopping you from raising your walking game?
You don’t always need to take time out of your day especially. One of the reasons why walking is so great is because You can walk to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take the dogs for a walk, walk to the shop instead of driving, or even marching on the spot while you are watching TV. Did you know Victoria Beckham has a desk built over her treadmill so she can get her footsteps in during her working day?
Whichever way you choose, I am confident if you raise your game, you will see firsthand why walking is great for your health.
If you are looking to raise your walking game, head on over to my article on The Best Ways to Count Your Steps so you can really reap those health benefits.