Enjoying a daily stroll is one way to get active
Getting active is as simple as incorporating a nightly stroll into your schedule. Many of us feel daunted by beginning a workout regime, but a nice walk in the neighborhood can be fun, engaging, and has a myriad of health and wellness benefits.
Check out the six lesser-known benefits of taking a walk as determined by researchers from all over the world:
- Walking improves mental health and keeps you energized and creative
The idea of walking as a means of increasing your energy levels may sound counter intuitive but it is true! One advocate, Professor Robert Thayer at California State University, Long Beach, said that people who walked more steps rated their “health, energy, overall mood, happiness, and self-esteem” higher than those who did not. In fact, the more steps they took, the better they felt. Another study done by the American Psychological Association showed that a taking a break from the task at hand increased people’s creativity, and even more so when they walked outside.
- Walking can help enhance your sleep quality
For those who are looking get good night’s sleep, incorporating walking into their daily lives can be beneficial. While there has been no unified consensus that walking or physical activity increases the amount of sleep time, a study done at Brandeis University has found that extra steps are very closely linked to the quality of sleep, especially for women. Those who walked more than 4,000 steps generally reported a better sleep, even on nights that they did not walk as much.
- Walking helps you get fit
Walking can help you achieve your fitness goals! Walking burns calories, and taking the extra steps when possible adds up to help individuals maintain or even reduce weight. According to Harvard Medical School, the calories you burn depend more on distance covered and body weight than your pace. If you are injured, suffer from joint pain, or just absolutely hate running, walking is a great option that you can do anytime and anywhere.
- Walking can help you increase life longevity
In addition to reducing weight-related health risks, research has shown that walking and exercise in general can help you live longer. According to the Arthritis Foundation, people who were regularly active in their 50s and 60s are “35% less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts.” The research indicated that this number even increased to 45% for people with pre-existing health conditions.
- Walking encourages brain health and cognitive functions
Talking a brief walk everyday can help keep your brain healthy and support future cognitive functions. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have used neuropsychology tests and MRI scans to analyze the effects of walking on brain health and found that those who walked more than 4,000 steps a day demonstrated stronger levels of attention, faster information processing abilities, and more efficient executive function.
- Walking boosts immunity
While stocking up on Vitamin C and eating fresh fruits and vegetables is helpful, walking has been proven to boost immunity as well. According to studies conducted by Harvard Medical School and the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who walked for at least 20 minutes a day for five days a week or more had fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. An additional benefit? If they did catch a cold, they suffered milder symptoms and were sick for a shorter period of time.
Start by making that evening stroll a habit! You can gradually increase the frequency of these walks week on week. It’s never too late to start investing in your health, and every step quite literally counts.
Healthy Living is a frequently updated content section brought to you by the Saudi Sports for All Federation. In the spirit of supporting our #HealthyActiveCommunity, we’re sharing tips around wellness, physical activity and more!