It’s really easy to overlook the health benefits of walking. When I lift heavy weights or go for a run, I feel like I’m pushing my body to the limit. When I go for an hour walk, I don’t even break a sweat. I’m sure you feel the same.
So, why should we “waste our time” walking, when we could be doing “real” exercise? Although it may not be as physically draining, walking provides health benefits that you can’t get from intense training. (Yeah, that rhymed).
(Cambridge, Massachusetts was recently voted the most walkable city in the United States. I can’t believe it beat out New York!)
30 Minutes a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
I have to admit, I was really surprised by the effect that half an hour of walking can have on your health and longevity. Below are a few findings from recent studies:
1. Helps Prevent Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes claims way too many lives. It’s extremely saddening to know that these lives could have been saved by simple lifestyle changes. A recent study shows that walking five days a week for only 30 minutes, along with some diet changes, can cut the risk of diabetes in overweight people in half.
2. Improve Heart Health
Research has consistently shown that walking reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad one), and increases HDL cholesterol (the one associated with a healthy heart).
Heart disease is the 4th biggest killer in the world, so taking care of your heart is necessary for longevity. Walking just half an hour a day can add years to your life.
3. Sitting is Deadly
Are you sitting down right now? Well, you may want to stand up after hearing this. More and more studies are showing that sitting for an extended period of time is can eventually lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even some cancers.
If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk all day, then you may want to consider walking to work. If that’s not reasonable, then you might want to find time to walk your dog, or take a stroll in the park everyday.
The Mental Benefits
Walking isn’t just physically beneficial, it can also improve your mental state of mind. It’s a great tool to clear to clear out your head after a long, stressful day. Below are a couple mental benefits of walking that I found really interesting:
1. Mood Improvement
Due to the endorphins released during exercise, walking actually works faster than anti-depressants. So if you’re feeling down in the dumps, a quick stroll could lift your spirits.
2. It’s a form of meditation
During a walk you’re silent, focused, and thinking deeply. This can be a truly cleansing experience. Especially if you’re having trouble solving a problem, and you need to think from a new perspective. For example, I thought of the idea for this article when I was taking a walk the other day.
What Does All This Mean?
There are still many benefits to other exercise (running, weight training, etc.), and I’m certainly not suggesting that walking can be done in place of an intense workout. All I’m saying is that walking should be included in your daily routine.
I know that most people don’t live in walk-friendly cities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time for 30 minutes a day. You can make it fun and go with your significant other, or you can put on your headphones and go by yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a beach, in a park, or in your neighborhood. Just find the time, and get it done.
Does Walking on a Treadmill Count?
Umm … sure.
You can tell by my unenthusiastic response that I’m not a huge fan of the “deadmill” (my buddy Mitchell at Home Fitness Manual made that one up). I really think walking outside is way more beneficial.
The sun, the fresh air. I think we all can agree that a treadmill isn’t close to the same. With that being said, walking on a treadmill is definitely better than just sitting down and watching TV.
If there’s a huge sports game on, or you’re just watching your nightly show, then hopping on the treadmill while you watch is an awesome way to fit in exercise. Regardless, I still believe everyone can find at least 30 minutes to take a short walk.
Enter your email below, and I'll send you a free guide detailing how to get a toned physique similar to Hollywood actors, actresses, models, and athletes.