Why Walking Should Be a Mandatory Part of Your Fitness Routine
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The many health benefits of walking as part of your fitness routine.
There are a lot of good reasons to start walking. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and most importantly: it’s good for your health. Heading out for a walk each day is a great way to motivate you to stick to your walking schedule until you start to see results.
Walking Gets You Outside In The Fresh Air and Sunshine
No matter how fast or slow you go, walking gets you outside and in the fresh air. This alone will make you feel better as your body absorbs the oxygen and sunshine. Both are important for your health and well-being.
You’ll find the air quality outside, particularly if you go for a walk on the beach or in a park, will be much better than the air inside your house. And of course, the sunshine outside will help your body product all the Vitamin D it needs.
Walking Can Help You Get To And Maintain A Healthy Weight
Walking particularly at a quick pace and doing it regularly can help you get to and then maintain a healthy weight. Yes, you still need to watch what you eat and aim for a healthy diet, but walking can be another tool to help you drop those extra pounds.
The nice thing about walking when you’re overweight is that you burn a lot of calories, even on short and slow walks, simply because you’re carrying so much weight around with you. As you start to lose the weight, your overall strength and endurance increases, allowing you to walk longer, further, and faster.
I’ve found a great book that shows you how intermittent walking (alternating between a normal pace and super fast pace) helps if you’re walking to lose weight. It’s called Walking the Weight Off For Dummies, and also has walking plans for you to get to your ideal fitness goals + weight goals.
Walking Improves Your Sense Of Balance And Coordination
As you walk, particularly when walking over rougher terrain, you’re also working on your sense of balance and coordination. Just getting in the habit of going for a daily walk will help. But you can work even more on your sense of balance by moving your head around. Turn your head to the right and left as you walk for a count of 30. Then move your head up and down for a count of 30. If you do these simple exercises once or twice as you walk each day you’ll get even more benefits.
Walking Strengthens Your Bones and Muscles
Even though walking is a low impact form of exercise it helps to strengthen and tone your body. If you’re just starting out, it is all you need to start to get into better shape. As you get more fit, consider adding weight lifting exercises in addition to your daily walks to continue to get stronger and help develop strong muscles and bones.
Walking Will Boost Your Mood and Fight Depression
Last but not least, the exercise of walking releases endorphins that will help lift your mood and can even reduce depression. Give it a try. The next time you’re feeling tired or are in a bad mood, lace up your sneakers and go for a brisk walk. It works like a charm. Especially if you’re able to walk in a forest or practice forest bathing at the same time.
Walking Is The Perfect Low Impact Exercise
If you haven’t exercised in a while, or are looking for something easy you can do every single day give walking a try. It’s the perfect low impact way to exercise. It’s easy to do, you don’t need any special equipment and you can start at the fitness level you’re at.
If you’re not in the best of shape, start by going for a 10 or 15 minute walk around the neighborhood and work your way up from there. If you’re already in great shape, walking can still provide an effective workout. Walk fast and incorporate some hills and even stairs.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If you’re like most of us, chances are you haven’t exercised much since you got out of college and need to start small. Maybe your doctor suggested that you move around more, or maybe you just want to be proactive about your health and well-being. In either case, walking is the perfect way to start.
Find a pair of comfortable shoes, put them on and go for a stroll through your neighborhood. You could also find a local park with a nice path you can walk on. If the weather doesn’t permit walking outside, head to your local mall and walk or hop on a treadmill.
You can even walk in place at home in front of your TV. Here’s a simple little idea to get you moving more. As you’re sitting on the couch at night watching TV, get up during commercial breaks and march in place until your favorite TV show comes back on. If you’re using a service like Netflix, make yourself walk in place for 10 minutes in between episodes. Or turn on the TV and challenge yourself to march in place during the entire show. Time will fly while you’re having fun watching TV and moving.
I personally won’t allow myself to watch my trashy TV unless I’m on the tread-climber at the same time. Most episodes last between 30-45 minutes, and give me the perfect amount of time to get in a good walking workout.
Speaking of having fun, going for a walk outside can be a lot of fun too. Mix up your route and walk in different areas of town, or visit different parks. Invite a friend to come along with you to walk. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to and having a walking buddy keeps you accountable. Last but not least, grab your phone and listen to music or audio books as you walk to make the time go by faster.
The main thing is that you get out there, move around, and get some exercise in a way that’s gentle on your joints, your heart, and the rest of your body and that’s what walking will do for you. Just give it a try and see if you don’t start to feel better, happier, and stronger after a few weeks of regular walks.
Walking Can Help You Lower Your Blood Pressure And Strengthen Your Heart
Walking has all sorts of health benefits among them the ability to help lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart. Many people at risk for stroke and heart disease are overweight, unhealthy and have a hard time exercising. Thankfully walking is an easy, low-impact workout that almost anyone can do.
Start where you’re at. Just put on your shoes and head out there. If all you can do is walk for five to ten minutes, start there. It’s a great start and that’s a lot more exercise than you’ve been getting. Stick with it for a week and then see if you can make it for 15 minutes.
If you can go for 30 minute walk, start there. Pick up the pace, walk briskly and after a week or two, try to go for 45 minute walks. Or break up your walking workout into 3 shorter sessions interspersed throughout your day.
If you have any health conditions and in particular, if you’re suffering from high blood pressure and are at risk for heart disease, discuss your walking plans with your doctor. The two of you can come up with a plan that’s appropriate and safe for you.
Getting out and walking will help you on several different levels. The act of walking itself is very relaxing and will lower your blood pressure soon after the walk. That’s a terrific benefit of walking and something that will help you feel better right away. But the benefits don’t stop there.
The regular exercise will strengthen your heart. Remember your heart is a muscle and going for a brisk walk works out more than your leg muscles. As you work out your heart, it gets stronger and better at pumping blood through your body. And as you strengthen your muscles and your body overall, you are likely losing body fat. That’s good news for your blood pressure long term. All it takes is heading out there for a short little walk each day. As you get stronger those walks will get longer. At that point you may even give swimming or riding your bike a try.
Healthy diet, regular exercise, and losing weight are some of the most effective ways to reduce hypertension regularly. Add to that the fact that walking helps you de-stress and it’s no wonder that walking regularly has such beneficial effects on your health. Ready to get started? Put on your shoes and go for that first walk.
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