Friday, April 1, was National Walk to Work Day (I know, there’s a day for everything), and with the weather starting to feel like spring (most days), it’s the perfect time to remind you about all the benefits of walking. Unless you live in a major city, like me in NYC, where walking to work, and anywhere really, is the norm, you might not be spending as much time walking outdoors as you should be. Walking has an abundance of benefits, so instead of taking the car down the road to pickup your dry cleaning or visit a friend, how about walking instead? Besides, it’s a much healthier and less expensive alternative.
Still not convinced? Here are five good reasons why you should be (briskly) walking more.
- Helps you lose weight This one is pretty obvious, but those who walk, lose weight faster than those who don’t. In case you need extra convincing, an Australian study in 2013 showed that over the course of several years, the average person gained 3.5 pounds, but those who walked to work gained an average of two pounds less than those who took their vehicles to work.
- Keeps you energized. You know that feeling after you eat a big meal and want to put on sweatpants and sit on the couch, or better yet, take a nap? Well, walking helps alleviate that sluggish feeling. Big meals mess with our blood-sugar levels, leaving us lethargic, and walking helps regulate blood-sugar levels.
- Improves your mood. We’ve been told over and over, walking, and exercising in general, improves our mood, and a California State University, Long Beach, study confirmed it. The study found that the more steps people took in a day, the better their moods were.
- So. Many. Health. Benefits. You’ve probably heard this a million times in gym class as a kid, but any activity, like walking fast, that gets your heart rate up, is beneficial for cardiovascular health. A 2013 study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, found that daily walkers lowered their blood pressure by at least 4.2 percent, and their risk of heart disease by at least 4.5 percent. And, while more research is still needed, a study by the American Cancer Society found that an hour of daily walking might reduce a woman’s likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer by 14 percent! Also, a 2005 study found that colorectal cancer patients who walked for six or more hours a week are 60 percent less likely to die from the disease than those who remained idle. Walking may also help delay dementia, because walking improves cerebral blood flow and lowers the risk of vascular disease. Also, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh previously found by conducting brain scans on seniors that walking at least six miles a week was linked to less brain shrinkage.
- Can add 7 years to your life. It’s true! Research recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress found that people who engaged in daily moderate exercise, like a brisk walk, experienced anti-aging benefits that could add three-seven years to their lives.
So what are you waiting for? Get walking!