16 Reasons to Take a Walk
Need some inspiration to get out the door? Here it is!
You’ll be racing to the door after checking out the wide range of benefits—beyond the usual health-boosting, disease-fighting ones—that walking has to offer.
Curb cravings. Got chocolate on your brain? Got an urge for something sweet? Do you reach for sugary snacks when you’re stressed? Take a 15-minute walk. Several studies show that walking can short-circuit these desires.
Temper bad genes. Walking briskly for about an hour a day can inhibit obesity-promoting genes. So even if your Mom and Dad were overweight, you are not destined to follow in their footsteps.
Build better relationships. There’s something about taking a walk with someone that just gets the conversation flowing. The more you walk together the better you get to know each other.
Fall asleep faster. Take a 45-minute stroll in the AM, and you’ll snooze more quickly in the PM, according to a study published in the journal Sleep.
Avoid a heart attack! Middle-aged women could reduce their risk of a deadly heart attack by 35 percent if they walk three or more hours a week—that’s just 25 minutes a day, according to one study. Other research shows similar benefits for men.
Solve problems more easily. Taking a walk helped people come up with twice as many creative solutions to problems compared to when they were sitting, according to a Stanford University study. The effect lasted even after they sat down.
Stop your brain from shrinking. Parts of your brain get smaller as you get older, which means that brain cells are dying, and may contribute to memory problems. But research shows you can counteract the decline and stay sharp by walking five to six miles a week.
Help the environment. Walking one and a half miles instead of driving that same distance cuts the production of greenhouse gases by 75 percent. It also reduces air and noise pollution.
Live longer. Just 15 minutes a day can add almost two years. Go for 30 minutes five days a week to tack on three and a half years. Log up to an hour a day and you could gain more than four years. And those years will likely be healthier ones.
Stop knee pain. Walking appears to be the best activity for maintaining healthy cartilage in your knees, according to a University of California, San Francisco, study. It can even help to reduce pain if you have arthritis.
Save money. Park once and walk when you’re at shopping centers or in downtown areas. Whenever possible, walk instead of driving if your destination is only about a mile or two away. The more you leave your car parked, the less money you’ll spend on gas.
Make tough conversations easier. Face-to-face conversations can make discussing difficult subjects even harder. But strolling side-by-side can ease tension. Instead of trying to read body language, you can listen more intently. And the increase of feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin can help you relax.
Fight depression. Three 30-minute walks a week were as effective as antidepressants in one study.
See the world from a new view. Walking instead of driving lets you really soak in the sights. You’ll slow down and see things you might otherwise miss.
Take fewer sick days. Walkers who strolled for at least 20 minutes a day, five times a week were sick 43 percent fewer days than those who exercised once a week or less, during a 12-week study. And if they did get sick, they were down for less time, and their symptoms were milder.
Meet your neighbors. Walking is a great opportunity to interact with other people. And research shows that social connections can influence your health.
Originally published in Diabetes Focus, summer 2016
Reprinted with permission.