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Benefits of Walking: Reclaiming Your Health One Step at a Time

Updated on July 24, 2018
Leland Johnson profile image

Leland has been a certified surgical technologist for 29 years. He hopes to help you navigate the treacherous waters of modern healthcare.

When Everyone Walked

Just a little over a hundred years ago everyone walked. Even in urban life city blocks were traversed by shop workers and business owners. Horses were messy and difficult to maintain and automobiles were a rare luxury limited to the wealthy. It is interesting to look at photographs from the early 1900's and note how few heavy people can be seen.

Walking was a part of life and it kept people slim and trim. The commonality and ease of obtaining a car has allowed people to move farther away from their jobs and into the countryside; away from the hustle and bustle of city life. That benefit has come at a cost. We don't walk anymore, we drive everywhere. Obesity, heart related illnesses, and hypertension are some of the plagues of the new era settling into our beings because of our sedentary lifestyles. Getting back to the old days of walking (not prescription medications) may hold the key to reversing/slowing these maladies. At least that's what some studies are saying.

5 Benefits of Walking

Follow along as I list 5 benefits from walking which amounts to 5 reasons why you and I should be doing more of it!

Benefit #1: Reduction of Joint Pain

Some people think that their stiff knees prevent them from going for walks when really the opposite is true. Actually, we tend to stiffen up, not FROM exercising our joints, but rather by NOT exercising them. Walking causes knee joints to create synovial fluid which acts as shock absorbers in concert with the knee's medial and lateral meniscus, and cartilage. The lubrication process triggered by walking actually brings about a reduction in joint pain making it easier to walk and to increase walking distances over time. Increases in distance builds thigh and calf muscles making walking yet more pleasant and efficient.

My Hiking Trail

I walked along this beautiful trail just two days ago! It inspired me to write this article. Maybe I'll include inspiration as a benefit as well! It was cloudy and overcast and it wasn't long before the rain began to fall, but I loved it! I took several pictures, saw lots of fauna and wildlife (some of which I captured in the pics), and it wasn't too bad because I remembered to bring an umbrella. That 45 minute walk left me feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Benefit #2: Clarity of Mind

When I say "clarity of mind" I refer to the need we have to disconnect and get out into the woods or next to a stream or in a garden; away from tv's, computers, cell phones and all the distractions that make us tired and lethargic. I suggest that when you get out onto the trails, don't take ear buds along. Listen to the sounds of creation, the natural sounds that soothe the soul; not the artificial sounds piped into our ears metered at 100 decibels. Get into creation, hear the creation, hear the Creator. This is what will help clear the mental fog.

A Little Danger Spices Up an Otherwise Dull Stroll Through the Woods

A Snake Hole?

I can't say for certain that this is a snake hole, but Ii'll tell you one thing- I didn't stick my fingers in it just so I could be positive! I did see several frogs which I was able to capture in upcoming shots.

Benefit #3: Reduces Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

This one surprised me, but check out the data: The American Cancer Society conducted a study which demonstrated that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% less chance of developing breast cancer than women who walked three hours or less weekly. Interestingly, the subjects that walked seven or more hours weekly were protected even though some of them had high risk for breast cancer factors such as being overweight or using hormonal supplements.

Unknown Paths

I had never walked this path before.  I love paths and I love it when there's a bend you cannot see around as there is in this photo. It's mysterious.  Walk a new path now and then.
I had never walked this path before. I love paths and I love it when there's a bend you cannot see around as there is in this photo. It's mysterious. Walk a new path now and then.

A photographer who made a picture from a splendid moment, an accidental pose of someone or a beautiful scenery, is the finder of a treasure.

— Robert Doisneau

Benefit #4: Appetite Control

Two studies from the University of Exeter confirmed that a brisk, 15 minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and other sweet treats. If you've done much walking you won't need a study to prove that to you, but it is good to see the scientific evidence to support what most of us already know- walking helps reduce cravings.

Benefit #5: Engage Nature

Look closely and you'll see two amphibian eyes peering through the grass. There were a lot of these little guys out and about during my walk. I've been on similar paths and witnessed snakes slither across many times causing a nice adrenaline jolt. I include these photos and this discussion as a benefit because I know there are a lot of people who walk in malls or in gyms, and I'm certainly don't discourage those mediums. Your joints don't know or care if they're being walked in or out of doors, they just want to be walked; but there is something special about being out there in nature, something better I think. The fresh air, the stillness, the lack of others, all combine to enrich not only the body, but the mind and spirit too.

Something Big!

Something big splashed here but submerged before I could see what it was.  Judging by the splash and sound I'm glad it decided to jump in prior to me reaching it!
Something big splashed here but submerged before I could see what it was. Judging by the splash and sound I'm glad it decided to jump in prior to me reaching it!

Conclusion

I'm sure you can think of more benefits to walking, like weight loss, more restful sleep, and isn't it great to take a walk with someone you love, a friend whose company you enjoy? And don't forget about Fido- who loves to take a walk more than the family dog. Maybe they know something we don't...or something we've forgotten? Happy walking!

The end of my Walk

As I made my way off the wet, muddied trail I was blessed to end my walk with the sight of this lovely arrangement of flowers.
As I made my way off the wet, muddied trail I was blessed to end my walk with the sight of this lovely arrangement of flowers.

Come Walk with Me!

The Tridge in Midland, Michigan

© 2018 Leland Johnson

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    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      9 months ago from Midland MI

      Hi Mary, I'm sorry to hear about your husband's fall and I hope he recovers fully. Yes, walking is soothing to the soul and healing to the body. Thank you for reading and commenting :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for this reminder. My husband fell down the other day and I reminded him of his lack of exerain in thecise, just walking. It is sometimes not encouraging as the terrain around us is uneven. I like your suggestion to listen to the sounds of nature and engage with nature while you walk.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      10 months ago from Midland MI

      I was very surprised to learn about the benefits particularly for women who walk 7 hours a week; that it's a deterrent to cancer. Thanks so much for watching and commenting, Linda.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love walking. I enjoyed reading about the benefits of the activity and watching your video, Leland. I agree with your opinion about walking in the rain. I've just come back from a walk during a heatwave. I would have much preferred to exercise in the rain, as long as I was able to stay reasonably dry!

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      10 months ago from Midland MI

      Absolutely, me too! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, AB. :)

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      10 months ago from Central Florida

      Good Morning Leland,

      I feel so much better when I get a walk in before work. I am more productive, focused and on task. (well...at least until noon time ;))

      Thanks for taking us with you!

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      10 months ago from Midland MI

      haha right- nature isn't always quiet. Thank you for reading and commenting Flourish :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

      Great reasons to walk, Leland. I enjoy nature and the quiet it offers. Just today on a walk I was able to see a nest of hungry baby birds peeking over their nest,waiting for the Mom the feed them. They weren’t so quiet, but I loved the sight.

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