The Health Benefits of Walking

The Health Benefits of Walking



Walking is the most popular form of exercise for a reason. Walking is the first exercise professionals recommend for people just staring their fitness journey or returning to exercise from injury.

This National Walking Day, help us celebrate the benefits of walking.

Walking burns calories – whether you prefer to walk in a slow to moderate pace or prefer brisk walking, walking burns calories and helps with overall health. Walking for 15 minutes (moderate pace) only burns 36 calories but walking briskly for the same amount of time burns 60 calories! Add another 15 minutes and that’s a total of 129 calories!

Calories Burned Walking by Miles

Walking 1 mile - burns between 53 to 85 calories

Walking 2 miles - burns between 106 to 170 calories

Walking 3 miles - burns between 160 to 255 calories

Walking is great for heart health – According to the American Heart Association, walking can have a big impact on your health by lowering your risk for heart disease. Just 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week reduces your risk for coronary heart disease by 19%. Walking plays a key role in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Walking helps with depression – a small study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed that walking 30 to 40 minutes five times per week for 12 weeks showed dramatic improvements in the group that exercised.

Another study analyzed 1,904 women and found that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 200 minutes of walking a week improved their physical and mental health as well as pain, physical and social functioning.

Walking can help with brain health in older adults – a 2018 study published in Neurology found that aerobic exercises like walking promotes improved executive functioning in older adults at risk of cognitive decline. In the study, participants who walked 3 times a week for 6 months “demonstrated improved performance on a standard battery of neurocognitive tests of executive function".

Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) believe that the foot’s impact from walking possibly sends pressure waves through the arteries that significantly modify and increase supply of blood to the brain.

Walking can lower blood pressure – a recent study showed that morning exercises like light to moderate walking, reduced blood pressure during a period of 8 hours in older overweight and obese adults compared to prolonged sitting. Walking helps curb your sweet tooth – Harvard Health Publishing reported that two studies from the University of Exeter found that a “15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations”. So the next time you’re craving sweets, just walk it off!

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Summary

Walking is the most popular form of exercise for a reason and it provides many benefits.

These are the health benefits of walking:

  • It burns calories - Walking for 15 minutes (moderate pace) burns 36 calories but walking briskly for the same amount of time burns 60 calories!
  • It’s great for your heart - Just 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week may reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by 19%.
  • Helps with depression – studies showed that walking 30 to 40 minutes five times per week for 12 weeks showed dramatic mental health improvements.
  • Helps with brain health - walking promotes improved executive functioning in older adults at risk of cognitive decline.
  • Can lower blood pressure - morning walks may reduce blood pressure during a period of 8 hours in older overweight patients.
  • Helps curb your sweet tooth - two studies reported that a 15- minute walk can curb your sweet tooth and even reduce the consumption of sweets during stressful situations. 

References

"Quantifying the dose-response of walking in reducing coronary heart disease risk: meta-analysis." - PubMed, 2009
 
"Walking – the first steps in cardiovascular disease prevention" - PMC, September 1, 2011
 
"Outwalking Depression" - Psychology Today, July 26, 2011
 
"Lifestyle and neurocognition in older adults with cognitive impairments A randomized trial" - Neurology, January 15, 2019
 
"Walking Can Help Your Brain Health Over Time, According To A New Study" - Bustle, January, 2019
 
"Regular Walking Can Help Ease Depression" - Scientific American, 2015
 
"How walking benefits the brain" - Science Daily, April 24, 2017
 
"How Many Calories Does Walking Burn per Mile?" - Very Well Fit, January 07, 2019
 
"Effect of Morning Exercise With or Without Breaks in Prolonged Sitting on Blood Pressure in Older Overweight/Obese Adults" - AHA Journals, February 20, 2019
 
"5 surprising benefits of walking" - Harvard Health Publishing