More than one-third of the adults in the United States are obese, according to the eggheads at Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, over the years, that number hasn’t been getting better…it’s been getting worse. And obesity can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and much more.
But, taking a daily walk can help you stay in shape—and if you are obese or overweight, it’s a low-impact way to ease into exercise. If you combine your daily jaunt with sensible dietary substitutions, like consuming fewer simple carbs and replacing soda with water, the walk can be surprisingly beneficial for weight loss. On top of that, walking can also elevate mood and alleviate stress. But that’s not all.
Here are 5 more reasons you should take a walk.
1. Walking Aids Digestion
According to research that appeared in The New York Times, a post-meal walk can aid digestion and control blood sugar levels. Alternatively, physically moving away from the dinner table eliminates the possibility of going back for seconds, thirds, or nineteenths.
2. Walking Is Good For Your Bones
You won’t bulk up your quads, hammys, or glutes in the same manner you would by performing load-bearing exercises like barbell squats or deadlifts, but walking still builds strength.
“Walking strengthens the legs and core, and improves cardiovascular fitness,” says Lisa Lynn, PT, FT, a specialist in performance nutrition. “In fact, walking strengthens the bones better than biking, swimming, or elliptical training.”
Just a friendly tip: Avoid texting while walking. Researchers found that walking texters or readers were found to have shoddy balance. Stumbling into oncoming traffic while texting increases your odds of having all 206 bones in your body smashed into bits. Plus, you might also dent the person’s car.
3. Walking Is Low Impact
Sometimes our bodies need a break from demanding exercises like burpees, rock star hops, and jump squats. But taking a time out from high-impact movements doesn’t give you permission to become a loafer.
When your goal is to lose weight aim to walk for 20 minutes per day, suggests Lynn. If your diet isn’t as clean as it should be (put those Funyuns down right this second!), boost your walking time up to an hour per day. “We’re supposed to be getting 10,000 steps daily,” Lynn recommends, “so how long you walk really depends on how active you are and how much you sit.”
And on the topic of sitting, use some of those steps to stand up and walk around a little at least once an hour. Prolonged time on your posterior isn’t healthy.
4. Walking Can Improve Your Mood
Sitting all day under florescent lights, dealing with annoying emails and TPS reports as you watch your lunch hour blow past can be both infuriating and stressful. So, go for a walk. Assuming you’re not walking through a methane garden, the new stimuli and fresh air you encounter during a walk can help calm you down and prevent you from Hulking up on your coworkers.
“A walk is a great way to clear your head and serve as a form of meditation for today’s anxious society,” Lynn explains. “It’s a fast way to boost mood…and a great way to detox both mentally and physically.”
5. Walking Cures Laziness
There’s no excuse not to take a walk. “When you don’t feel up to the hardcore, overzealous exercise, walking is a huge victory,” adds Lynn. “Walking keeps our bodies pliable and our joints and muscles loose and in working order. I tell my clients that if you rest you’ll rust, but you won’t if you walk!”