Top Five Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Walking

Top Five Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Walking

Walking is an easy, efficient, and inexpensive form of exercise that can help you maintain your physical and mental well-being.

Among the many health benefits of walking, it’s also a great way to control your weight and get a better night’s sleep.

Medical professionals in virtually all disciplines agree that walking for just 20 minutes a day is an excellent habit. With so much emphasis on health and wellness, there has never been a better time to make a daily walk part of your routine. 

There will always be a new wellness trend on the market. Right now, you can choose from PiYo to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to high-intensity cycling. Anything that gets your body moving especially if it’s outdoors. 

Just be mindful, however, some high-impact activities if you are just starting out can cause wear and tear on your body and cause future issues. If access to a park, trail or path is an issue, just step outside of your house or apartment, get some fresh air and walk in place.

For a long-term, tried-and-true way to stay healthy, few activities compare to walking.

Here are just five reasons why walking is so good for our physical and mental health:

1. Walking helps you burn calories. 

Walking is a versatile, low-tech workout that can deliver excellent results. You can adjust your stride depending on your body type, physical limitations, and how much time you have to take a walk.

You will burn calories no matter what, but the quicker your pace, the more calories you burn.

2. Too much sitting is bad for you.

Too much sitting can pose health risks, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity on the more severe end of the spectrum. On the lower end, sitting too much can cause fatigue, body aches, and misalignment.

We recommend not sitting for long stretches at a time without a break. Get up from your desk or slouched on your couch and move around. Even a few laps around your office or living spaces will be healthful.

3. It helps clear your mind…

It’s frustrating to feel overwhelmed or “stuck” on a thought or issue. That’s when it’s best to take a break and step away from whatever it is that has you stuck. You can come back to it later with a clearer head.

Even better—taking a morning walk during the peaceful early hours can clear your mind, help you focus, and set your intention for the rest of your day. Walking is an excellent activity also for people prone to anxiety and depression.

A brisk walk helps burn off any nervous, anxious energy. For those with depression, walking can help improve your mood and give you a much-needed burst of energy.

4. …and it helps get those thoughts flowing. 

Getting your body moving helps get your mind moving. The task or problem that had you stuck?  Taking a walk will likely get your problem-solving juices flowing and help you develop a good solution.

5.  It’s a great reason to get outside!

Whenever possible, take advantage of your nearest green space and get outside. A brisk walk doesn’t just boost your heart rate—it helps you kick that “sluggish” feeling that comes from periods of inactivity. 

Walking increases the levels of endorphins (essentially “feel-good hormones”) our bodies produce, so we biologically feel better after an intense walk. There are countless benefits of walking outdoors. You can connect with nature, get your blood pumping, and take a much-needed break from too much sitting.

The Increased Benefit of Nature Walks.

Nothing compares to walking outdoors. Nature has countless restorative properties all by itself. Add just a few minutes of walking or hiking, and you have the perfect way to restore your mood and give your energy level a boost.

After being around our nearest and dearest 24/7 this past year, we could all use a little alone time in the quiet of nature.

As this Psychology Today article explains, the peace and calmness of nature is the remedy to the constant noise and activity of our everyday lives.  Additionally, taking a nature walk allows us to:

  • Focus more closely on our natural surroundings
  • Meditate and turn our thoughts inward, creating a feeling of calm and stillness
  • Boost our creativity. By putting our endless “to do” list on hold, we open ourselves up to the inspiration of the world around us. This unleashes our feelings of creativity, imagination, and self-expression.
  • Turn off our devices and block out the distractions that crowd our days

Walking and Grounding

If you practice grounding, you probably know walking barefoot outdoors is the most effective method. If the ground you are walking on is safe (no fertilizers, bird/animal poop, soda tops, and other various common trash found on our ground).

Make the most of your backyard or local park, and take off your shoes. For longer walks in the woods or uneven terrain, grounding shoes are the best way to make that direct connection with the earth and protect your feet. 

Check out HARMONY783’s footwear. With a wide selection of both casual and active styles, you can ground and get a great workout at the same time.

HARMONY783 grounding footwear for outdoor walks

How to Start a Walking Program

If you are inspired to get started, here are some ways to get you on your way:

  • First, commit to doing it! You won’t reach your goal if you don’t take some kind of action.  
  • Set aside some time each day for your walk. We love the idea of getting outside first thing in the morning but do what works best for your schedule.
  • Follow your physical activity guidelines. Know your body’s limitations. Don’t overdo it your first time out. If you are recovering from an injury or have health issues, start slowly, then gradually increase your route and how much time you spend on your walk.
  • Mix up your walking routine. Take a different route and explore new areas of your neighborhood or green space. Plugin your earbuds and listen to your favorite music or podcast along the way.
  • Find a walking buddy. This practice is encouraged less in our current state of social distancing, so you may have to be creative. Recruit someone from your household or a neighbor you’ve been in contact with to go with you.  With proper distancing and other safety precautions, a walk can still be a social activity.

There are so many ways to make walking a regular part of your day. The countless benefits for your physical and mental health make it worth the effort!