You want to get lean, start walking! There are several benefits of walking pertaining to your physical and mental health, walking not only helps you lose those extra inches, but it also helps you emotionally.
Walking is one of the best cardio exercises to include in your workout regimen. People are obsessed with walking 10,000 steps a day. According to a 2017 Study, walking about 10,000 steps a day is as effective as doing five 30-minute workouts during a week.
Staying inactive causes your body to be susceptible to various chronic health conditions. Walking, as compared to weight training or running is a natural body movement that is easy to perform. However, achieving a target of 10,000 steps a day can seem daunting at first but it is doable.
Consistent daily efforts can help you achieve your goal and once you reach there, you will feel highly motivated and positive about your body and mind.
Will I lose weight walking 10,000 steps a day?
This is the first question that comes into your mind whenever you think of walking 10,000 steps every day. Well, walking or any other physical activity alone may not be enough to lose weight, though combining a 30 minutes brisk walk with other activities completing 10,000 steps can help you burn about 400 to 500 calories per day or in other words, one pound per week!
How you can monitor or track your steps?
With a lot of digital fitness products launched in the market including your smartphones, you can track the number of steps every day and watch your calories burned per week.
I personally use the app Pacer on my iPhone to track the number of steps I take every day and make sure that I am at least close to my goal if not matching it.
So are you ready to learn more about the benefits of walking? Read on…
1. It could strengthen your heart
Cardiovascular exercise of any kind including walking can help build endurance and have a greater aerobic capacity. According to John Thyfault, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology at Kansas University Medical School in Kansas City, Kansas. “A larger stroke volume is a sign of greater aerobic capacity.”
The longer and faster you walk greater the benefits and protection of your heart. A 2017 study of more than 50,000 adults in the UK, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that people who walked at an average or quick pace between five and 10 hours a week were about 24% less likely to die from heart disease compared to slow walkers.
2. Walking helps you lose that Belly Fat
Belly fat, the ultimate culprit that can make you feel depressed or make you look down upon yourself, can be caused by any of the following 3 reasons –
- High Insulin
- Estrogen Dominance
Walking helps you lose that belly fat by burning the excess calories and helps by balancing the hormones, especially the stress hormone, Cortisol.
For the other reasons of belly fat, High Insulin, and Estrogen dominance, walking does benefit but you will have to make some dietary changes along with the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day.
If you are physically inactive, then those extra calories get stored as fat in your muscle or liver, excess of which gets stored into your belly region adding to those extra inches and dangerously increased waistline.
3. Walking can help you boost your immunity
The third benefit of walking is that it can boost your immune function. This happens due to the fact that any physical activity including walking increases the number of white blood cells which help you in fighting infections.
A study conducted in 2013 showed a significant increase in the white blood cell count among 800 young adults monitored for over six years which is published in the World Journal of Experimental Medicine.
So you can now say goodbye to flu, cold and also you will have less number of sick days, or even if you get sick, you will get less severe symptoms as compared to those who are leading sedentary lifestyles.
4. Walking can help you ease your pain
If you are having frequent episodes of pain in the muscles or your joints, it can be due to poor blood circulation into that particular region causing stiffness.
Walking can help relieve the pain by easing the stiffness by warming up your muscles and making them easier to move.
Also, walking can help you ease pain by increasing certain types of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Among these, there is also an increase in the neurotransmitters that helps you in relieving your pain.
This is the reason why walking is suggested to people to alleviate pain in cases of musculoskeletal pain conditions – that is pain in the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves, such as lower back pain.
5. Walking Reduces Stress
Aerobic activity including walking can help you in relieving stress causing you to feel relaxed and keep stress at bay.
If I share my personal experience, I am used to going to a morning walk and when I get back home after an hour of brisk walk session, I feel so relaxed and light as if some burden is shed off of my body.
The mood is improved and even a short walk of even 15 minutes can help you reduce the levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol giving you a sigh of relief.
Similarly, when you get anxious or are depressed, walking can benefit you significantly in improving your overall mood and ease the burden causing you anxiety or depression.
6. Walking Increases Life Expectancy
Walking can impact your mortality. If you are walking, you will live longer than the ones who are not walking at all.
A study published in 2011 by the British Medical Association followed 27,738 participants aged 40 to 79 years for a 13 year period and found that participants who walked for more than one hour a day had a longer life expectancy than participants who walked for less than one hour a day.
The quicker your walk, the chances of your death reduce significantly. You would like to start walking every day now right?
7. Walking Helps you Improve your Brain Health
Nowadays, excessive exposure to stress and sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and nutrition have resulted in increased mental health problems, especially among teenagers and the young generation!
Walking, as discussed earlier increases brain activity, increased neurotransmitters, and more blood flow to your brain.
Walking can help reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue improve your mood and sleep quality giving a boost to your self-esteem and self-perception.
Also, walking may cut Alzheimer’s risk. According to this article published in WebMD, “In cognitively normal adults, walking 6 miles a week instead of being sedentary was associated with a 50% reduction in Alzheimer’s risk over 13 years,” he tells WebMD.
“In people with MCI, walking just 5 miles a week reduced brain atrophy and cognitive decline — by more than 50%,” Raji says.
What if you do not hit the 10,000 step mark?
Although the benefits of walking 10,000 steps are many, hitting the goal is something you always want right? Initially, a goal of 10,000 steps may seem too much so don’t try to hit the goal of 10,000 steps the very first day you start walking.
Start with a small goal of 3,500 steps and increase the number of steps gradually every week. Initially, it may hurt a little if you are not a regular walker, but as you gradually increase your pace and number of steps, you will feel lighter, your stress levels will decrease significantly and you will get this sudden burst of energy.
In this article, we discussed the 7 benefits of walking and how walking can have an impact on your physical and mental health.
We also discussed that walking greatly improves your immune function, relieves pain, keeps brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, and also helps you keep depression, anxiety, and fatigue at bay.
Walking 10,000 or more steps a day can have so many benefits that you would like to include walking into your workout regimen.
In a nutshell, walking is the lightest version of any physical activity having tremendous benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing. So, I am up for it and would request you to take some time out every day preferably an hour, a minimum of 30-minutes to go out on a walk. Are you a slow walker or a brisk walker? Since how many years have you been walking? Do share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
Disclaimer – The tips given in this article are for informational purposes only. It does not intend to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your dietitian and medical health practitioner before making any changes to your diet or before taking any supplements.
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