Benefits Of Walking, Proven By Science

benefits of walking

Walking is something we all become accustomed to over the past year. However, in recent months, it seems that the desire to get our legs moving has gradually become more of a chore. While it’s overlooked as a form of exercise, walking has extensive health benefits from reduced anxiety to improved blood sugar levels. Read on to find out the benefits of walking, backed by scientific research and evidence.

Practical tips 

Easily forgotten, here are several things to consider before you head out for a brisk walk:

  • Wear sensible shoes – make sure your walking shoes are comfortable with good ankle support and grip. Also, flexible shoes will help activate more muscles, give them a twist (like you’re wringing out a towel) and check they have lots of movement. 
  • Stay hydrated – even on days where it’s a little brisk outside, make sure you take a water bottle if you’re going on a long walk. 
  • Make sure you’re comfortable – wear practical clothing with easily removable layers. The weather can be unpredictable on longer walks, especially with different altitudes. 
  • Walk on the grass, if possible – walking on grass, as opposed to hard pavement, helps to absorb impact reduces risk of injury.
  • Consider the weather – We know how unpredictable the weather can be. If you’re passionate about walking, it’s wise to invest in good quality, waterproof and windproof clothing. Alternatively, The Fast 800 Online Programme has a collection of stretching and Pilates videos, perfect for doing at home, for days where you’re looking for low-impact exercises and the weather isn’t on your side. 

Benefits of walking 

Mindfulness 

Walking is great for mental health; various scientific studies have recognised that adding a brisk walk to your daily routine can significantly reduce your stress and anxiety levels.1 By simply getting outside and taking in your surroundings, you will most likely benefit from a sense of calmness. 

Longevity 

Get a bit of spring in your step and add pace to your walks; research claims that walking faster can help you live longer. The University of Sydney carried out a study finding that walking at a brisk pace may reduce the risk of mortality by 20 percent, in comparison to strolling.2

Boosts mood 

Walking helps to reduce anxiety and depression, along with boosting overall wellbeing. It has been also been recognised to reduce symptoms of social withdrawal and improve self-esteem. A 2019 study recognised that the risk of major depression was reduced by 26% as a result of walking for an hour each day, or running for 15 minutes.3

May help to boost levels of vitamin D

Research shows that the best way to get vitamin D is through exposure to the sun’s UV rays. A walk in the sunshine for 10-15 per day, with arms and legs exposed, will place you in a better position to avoid deficiency.4 Just be sure to take sun cream with you if you are going out for a longer walk and apply after 15 minutes in the sun. You can find further information on sun protection through this article from Cancer UK. 

Eases joint pain

Any movement can help to lubricate the joints, which increases your range of motion. The low impact of walking also takes stress away from weight bearing joints. Walking is a great form of exercise for people of all fitness abilities to help build up strength. Remember to start slow, build up pace and then cool down with a steady walk to avoid any muscle stiffness. If you’re looking for something with higher intensity, try our free, downloadable 7 day exercise guide.

Manages blood sugar 

Walking can also help your body to use insulin more effectively. It can help reduce blood sugars, and moreover reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, particularly if you walk immediately after eating. A study recognised that three 15 minute walks throughout the day (following meals) was more effective in managing blood sugar levels over a 24 hour period than one 45 minute walk.5

Burns calories 

Everyone is different when it comes to burning calories and many will have different results. However, there are a lot more calories to be burned when you’re walking, than when you’re sitting on the sofa!

Walking, despite being low-impact, has a huge range of health benefits; a few short walks each day can improve your overall well-being with the potential to help you live longer. For further advice on ways to improve your health, sign up to The Fast 800 newsletter for regular updates, articles, recipes and latest offers on our range of products from The Fast 800 team.


References

1. Edwards MK, Loprinzi PD. Experimental effects of brief, single bouts of walking and meditation on mood profile in young adults. Health Promot Perspect. 2018;8(3):171-178. Published 2018 Jul 7. doi:10.15171/hpp.2018.23

2. Stamatakis E, Kelly P, Strain T, et alSelf-rated walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50 225 walkers from 11 population British cohortsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2018;52:761-768.

3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/more-evidence-that-exercise-can-boost-mood

4. Rhodes LE, Webb AR, Fraser HI, Kift R, Durkin MT, Allan D, O’Brien SJ, Vail A, Berry JL. Recommended summer sunlight exposure levels can produce sufficient (> or =20 ng ml(-1)) but not the proposed optimal (> or =32 ng ml(-1)) 25(OH)D levels at UK latitudes. J Invest Dermatol. 2010 May;130(5):1411-8. doi: 10.1038/jid.2009.417. Epub 2010 Jan 14. PMID: 20072137.

5. DiPietro L, et al. Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Post-meal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance. Diabetes Care Jun 2013, DC_130084; DOI: 10.2337/dc13-0084

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