A sedentary lifestyle is the curse of our generations. Immobility weakens our bodies and makes them susceptible to chronic health issues. If we wonder how to incorporate more activity into our life, its simplest form might be a great solution. Eventually, not without reason, different health organizations recommend crossing 8000+ steps per day (around 5km). And why is an ordinary walk such a great form of activity? Let me try to convince you with these 10 reasons.
1. No equipment needed
To go out for a walk, we don’t need any special conditions. It can be done anywhere at any time by everyone. In this aspect, walking has the advantage over other activities. The only thing we need to take into consideration is weather, to choose appropriate clothing, that’s all. Of course, if we want to take care about feet health, we should choose a good pair of shoes for longer strolls.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t cost anything to go for a walk, just a little bit of time. And if we are really busy,a short 15 min break is also a great idea to catch a breath and come back more motivated to our daily duties.
2. Connection with nature
In the modern world we are surrounded with enormous amount of digital entertainments. Video games, TV series, social media. We just need a phone or laptop and internet connection to have fun and stay up to date with the latest world news. But this is not what our bodies were designed to do.
Many of us lack connection with nature on a daily basis. A walk in the park, beside the river or in the closest forest can help decrease the exposure to unnatural (digital) stimuli. Besides, nature triggers a lot of positive emotions. So give your senses a break and go out to observe it, smell it and relish what Mother Nature gave us.
Unlike during heavy lifting at the gym or running, walking provides an opportunity to have an undistracted conversation with the closests. In person or via phone, we can freely walk and talk. Other activities require more focus on the motion itself, but walking is done on so-called autopilot, so we can simultaneously put our focus on another activity.
Except for a conversation, we can put the headphones on and listen to a favourite podcast or audiobook, actively listening to the narration. In this way, we can do 2 productive things at one go.
4. Vitamin D
Another great advantage of walks is exposure to sunlight, which equals vitamin D absorption. It’s widely recommended to stay at least 20 min a day in the open air to maintain a decent level of vitamin D in the organism.
Of course, when it comes to vitamin D we can help ourselves with the supplement, but many times it’s not enough. For this reason, especially on sunny days, we should try to provide it naturally through the skin.
5. Natural Human Motion
Unlike sitting, walking is natural for us. Human bodies were not designed for a sedentary lifestyle, but evolution has made us intelligent enough to seek comfort. Unfortunately, prolonged sitting becomes a routine that often leads to health problems. Reducing a sedentary lifestyle is beneficial to both overall well-being and body posture.
Movement is like oil for an engine. And the walk is good quality and economical oil. During physical activity, the heart pumps blood faster and supplies more nutrients to different parts of the body. So, if we want our circulatory system and all organs to function better, we need to move as much as possible.
In addition, the walk will have a preventive effect on the slumped body posture. Especially if we keep our chest proudly exposed while walking.
6. Helps to maintain a healthy weight
Every motion equals burnt calories – the same goes for walking. Depending on the body weight, during a 1-hour walk, we can burn around 200-350 kcal which is comparable to 1 hour of strength training.
Due to its low intensity, walking can be also a great tool for those who want to get shredded, but since they already train heavy at the gym, they don’t want to put extra strain on the nervous system. For instance, I remember Alberto Nunez (natural bodybuilder), saying that his one and only cardio is crossing a distance of 10000+ steps a day.
7. Improves physical efficiency
The next benefit is the general improvement in physical efficiency. If climbing many stairs is difficult for us, it means we lack cardiovascular and muscular endurance. To improve these aspects, we should walk at a brisk pace.
A good way to track it is to use a smartwatch/smartband. Otherwise, we can draw our attention to the heart beating while walking – if it’s faster than usual and we slowly start to sweat, it means the pace is good enough to challenge our physical condition. The fact is that we don’t need extremely demanding workout sessions to stay in a decent condition.
8. Strengthens skeletal system
This part might be especially helpful for elderly people since over the course of years bone density decreases and they start to be more prone to fracturing. Physical activity is the best natural preventive way against such problems.
Of course, if the resistance is higher, the body has to generate more force. Therefore, we will benefit more from typical strength training in the case of bone health. Nevertheless, walking is also a weight-bearing activity, so it strengthens the skeletal system too.
9. Helps against cardiovascular problems
As I already mentioned, walking is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness. If we want to have a strong heart we need to train it – to let it work in the different heart rate zones. Therefore, regular activity is so important, because it improves blood circulation which is crucial in preventing cardiovascular problems.
Referring to my first article Physical Activity Vs Lifestyle Diseases, to improve the efficiency of the respiratory and circulatory system, we need to burn about 1400kcal / week during training, to stop the progression of atherosclerotic changes 1533kcal (+/- 122) / week, and to eliminate the already existing changes, we need to burn about 2200kcal / week. And a brisk-paced 30-60 min walk can be definitely classified as a little training session.
10. Improves cognitive performance
Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) also improves during movement. And when fresh blood is carried by the arteries to the brain, it provides the nutrients such as glucose and amino acids. So, as the blood flow improves, the brain is capable of being more productive.
Perhaps also for this reason people often tend to walk while talking on the phone. We can definitely express ourselves better while being in the motion. That’s why having a walk with a significant other or a friend is a great way of spending free time.
Every step taken during a walk is a step closer to a leaner silhouette and better wellbeing. We need to keep in mind that even the simplest activity is benficial for the body. Except for an easily noticeable mood boost, a stroll has a great impact on the cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems. Going out for a walk doesn’t require much, and its low intensity makes it a great way to incorporate additional activity in our lives. Therefore, since summer is around the corner, I highly recommend going out as often as possible to actively spend time in the bosom of nature.