Top 15 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking
Walking is a great form of exercise. Walking on a regular basis improves our physical fitness, and helps in weight loss and weight management. Walking has also been found to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Besides physical health benefits, walking is also great for your mental health. A Canadian study conducted by Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos from the Exercise Psychology Unit found that after 12 weeks the further a woman walked, the more her body image perceptions improved.
Here are the Top 15 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking:
1. - Walking can reduce the risk of Heart Disease
Walking strengthens your heart. Walking improves the heart muscles and helps the flow of blood all over your body. Walking can prevent heart attack, stroke, and clogging of the veins.
For Women - Women have higher risk than men, to die of heart disease. Studies show that women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. Walking may reduce coronary heart disease risk in women by 30 to 40 percent.
- Walking at least 3 hours a week lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke by 40%, specially for women age 40-65.
- Walking briskly lowers your risk to 54%.
- Walking at a slower pace have a 32% lower risk of heart disease, compared with those who don’t walk at all.
For Men - Studies show that mortality rates among retired men who walked less than one mile per day were nearly twice that among those who walked more than two miles per day.
2. - Walking helps reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Frank Hu, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health found that a brisk walk for one hour daily could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 34%.
3. - Walking helps prevent Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, walking and other forms of exercise, can lower the risk of breast cancer because it regulates hormone levels.
According to data from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 45 minutes of regular exercise, including walking, every day could prevent about 5,500 cases of breast cancer.
4. - Walking reduces the risk of Prostate Cancer
According to a recent study in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, about three hours of brisk walks every week:
- can help men to lower the chances of having prostate cancer by almost 50%, and
- prevent spreading of the cancer for the next couple of years.
Researches found that men who walked briskly for at least three hours a week had a 57% lower rate of progression of prostate cancer than men who walked at an easy pace for less than three hours a week.
In addition, walking regulates hormone levels which can lower the risk of prostate cancer.
5. - Walking reduces the risk of Colon Cancer
Walking can reduce the risk of colon cancer because it speeds up the digestive process and minimized the amount of time the bowel lining is exposed to dangerous substances.
6. - Walking lowers High Blood Pressure
Studies show that walking 30 minutes 5 times a week, can help lower blood pressure.
7. - Walking reduces Cholesterol levels
According to the U.S. government's National Cholesterol Education Program, walking can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Walking reduces bad cholesterol indirectly by helping you reduce your weight and stress. Walking helps men's cholesterol levels more than women's.
High blood cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease. Studies show that for every 1% drop in blood cholesterol, there is a 2% decrease in the likelihood of a heart attack.
8. - Walking helps prevent Osteoporosis and loss of Bone Density
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and can break easily. It is characterized by low bone mass and loss of bone tissue.
Both men and women will suffer bone loss as they age, usually starting slowly around age 30. However, women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and loss in bone density, than men.
Walking can increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. If you already have osteoporosis, walking will help manage the negative effects of osteoporosis.
Walking as little as three to five miles a week can help build your bone health.
9. - Walking reduces the risk of developing Glaucoma
Studies show that walking 20 minutes, 4 times a week, reduces the risk of developing glaucoma, by lowering intraocular pressure. High intraocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to glaucoma.
10. - Walking can help prevent and improve the condition of Arthritis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), walking can help prevent and improve the condition of arthritis.
Walking 30 minutes per day can help reduce pain, improve joint function, increase mobility, boost your mood and improve your quality of life.
11. - Walking can help us live longer
Walking can improve our general health and longevity.
According to the US Report of the Surgeon General, not only do walkers live longer but also the quality of their lives improves dramatically.
12. - Walking reduces Depression and Anxiety
A new study shows that a 30 minute walk per day at a steady pace, can provide a mood boost to people suffering from depression.
Walking, particularly when walking with good company and in pleasant surroundings, reduces depression and anxiety.
For people who suffer from mild or moderate depression, walking (or any form of exercise) may lessen feelings of helplessness and isolation.
13. - Walking can help combat Insomnia
Walking is a great exercise to combat insomnia. However, don't go for a long and strenuous walking before you go to bed in the evening. Walking elevates your heartbeat and makes muscles tight. Your body needs cooling off period. So, to combat insomnia, it is advisable to do your walking earlier in the day.
14. - Walking keeps us fit
Walking daily, or walking at least a few times a week for about 30 minutes or longer, keeps us fit.
When you walk regularly, much like other kinds of moderate and low impact physical activities that involve the whole body, you can greatly improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and function.
Also, once you include walking regularly as part of your normal activities:
- you are less likely to fall and suffer leg or hand fractures because your bones are stronger,
- you are less likely to sustain any injury because your joints have a better range of motion and the muscles are more flexible.
15. - Walking can help in weight loss and weight management
Your body weight reflects the balance between the calories you take in as food and the calories you burn out through your normal daily physical activities.
Walking for 30 minutes covers a distance of 2.0 to 2.5 km (1.24 to 1.55 miles) and burns about 125 calories. You might think this amount seems not much, but if you walked five days a week within one year you would burn over 32,000 calories which would burn off more than 5 kg (11.02 lbs) of fat.
You can burn a minimum of 2000 calories per week by just walking 8 hours a week, spread throughout the week.
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In addition to all these health and mental benefits, walking can also have a favorable influence on personal habits. For example, smokers who begin walking often cut down or quit. Studies show that the two main reasons for this are: first, it is difficult to exercise vigorously if you smoke, and second, better physical condition encourages a desire to improve other aspects of one's life.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on your walking shoes and start walking.
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