12 Amazing Benefits Of Walking And Useful Tips

This aerobic exercise is your one-stop solution to manage hypertension and heart ailments.

Medically Reviewed by Nichole Dandrea-RussertNichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN
By Charushila BiswasCharushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist  • 

Walking is a great aerobic exercise and an effective way to kick start your metabolismi  XChemical reactions in the cells that convert food into energy required by the body to perform basic functions. . According to the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, walking helps reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases (1). In fact, walking (at speeds equal to or greater than 8 km/h) expends more energy than jogging at the same speed (2). Read on to find out about the health benefits of walking daily.

Health Benefits Of Walking

1. Aids Weight Loss

Woman unhappy with scale's reading

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Walking is an effective way to burn calories and lose weight.

Researchers at the University of Alabama designed an experiment that involved obese patients walking together (a concept known as the ‘walking bus’) to their destinations in and around the city. After eight weeks, their weight was checked, and more than 50% of the participants lost an average of 5 pounds (3).

Fun Fact
Walking on rough tracks burns 50% more calories than walking on paved roads. Try this if you are off your diet goals for a day or two.

Walking also increases energy expenditure and is an effective and inexpensive way to burn calories (4).

2. Improves Heart Health

Walking helps improve heart health. A study conducted on adult women in rural New York showed a positive correlation between walking and improved biomarkers of cardiovascular health (5).

Many studies also suggest that walking reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%. As per the American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, every adult should do moderate-intensity workout (like brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week (6).

3. Regulates Blood Pressure

Woman checking her blood pressure.

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Walking can also help lower blood pressure by improving circulation.

Researchers at the Wakayama Medical College, Japan conducted an experiment on individuals with mild hypertension, where 83 participants walked 10,000 steps per day for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, they showed a significant drop in blood pressure and had increased stamina (7).

If you are unable to complete 10,000 steps per day, walk for at least 30 minutes every day to keep your blood pressure levels in check.

4. Regulates Blood Glucose Levels

Going on short walks on a regular basis can help improve fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels.

Scientists recommend no less than 5,000 steps a day – with more than 3,000 of those steps being a brisk walk – to help manage type 2 diabetes (8).

A small study done on inactive seniors (>60 years of age) with blood glucose levels of 105-125 mg/dL demonstrated that short interval walking for 15 minutes or 45 minutes after meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) controlled post-meal glucose response (9).

5. Strengthens Bones And Eases Joint Movements

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Regular walking strengthens bones by improving the lubrication between joints and strengthening and toning your muscles.

A small study done on 27 people with symptomatic knee osteoarthritisi  XThe most common form of arthritis, it is a degenerative joint disease that causes the tissues in the joint to deteriorate over time. showed that walking at a stretch for 30 minutes or more increased knee pain while the same volume of walking in multiple boutsi  XA period in which someone experiences a condition or suffers from something, such as an illness or disease. improved knee loading and eased pain (10).

6. Increases Lung Capacity

Walking can also increase your lung capacity. When you walk, you breathe in more oxygen as compared to when you are stationary. This exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at a larger volume can help increase your lung capacity, thereby increasing your stamina and exercise performance.

A study published in The European Respiratory Journal found that aerobic fitness could help increase lung volume (11).

7. Boosts Immune Functions

Walking helps reduce frequent attacks of infection and boosts immunity. A study was conducted at Duke University School of Medicine on twelve sedentary adults with stable rheumatoid arthritis.

The participants were asked to walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes, thrice a week for 10 weeks. They showed improved immune function and infection risk at the end of the study (12).

8. Improves Gastrointestinal Function

Apart from maintaining good food habits and drinking water, you should also walk to improve gastrointestinal function.

Studies have shown that low-intensity exercise has a protective role in gastrointestinal disorders. It improves gastrointestinal motility and blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is limited evidence on its effect on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation (13).

9. Uplifts Mood

Several scientific studies have proven that physical activity can help prevent depression (14). Walking is highly recommended by physicians and psychiatrists to help uplift mood.

10. Reduces Stress

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Walking can help reduce stress levels by improving circulation, which, in turn, provides nutrients and oxygen to the cells. It also stimulates the nervous system receptors and decreases the production of stress hormones.

A randomized study conducted at the Medical University of Graz (Austria) found that walking combined with resting and balneotherapy (bath therapy) helped reduce stress (15).

11. Improves Memory

Walk every day to give your memory power a boost. Japanese scientists have found that walking can help improve the memory of older patients (16).

It has also been found that physical exercise helps increase the size of the hippocampusi  XA part of the brain that can be found in the inner folds of the bottom middle region, mostly involved with learning and memory. , while a sedentary lifestyle shrinks the hippocampus, leading to memory loss (17).

12. Improves Mortality

The duration and intensity of walking affect the mortality rate. A study conducted on 1239 men found that walking for 1-2 hours a day decreased mortality risk by 70% in men with cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, or cancer. However, walking for more than 2 hours showed no significant benefits in these men (18).

Have all these benefits motivated you to start walking daily? Check out the next section to find out what you need to start doing this simple exercise every day.

What Do You Need to Start Walking?

Woman tying her shoelace before going for a walk

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You need a few basic things to walk. Here’s the list:

  • Walking shoes
  • Comfortable clothes
  • A bottle of water and an energy bar for long walks
  • If you walk to your office, wear your office clothes and a pair of comfortable shoes. You can change your footwear later at the office.
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Motivation – Absolutely necessary for at least the first 5 days.
  • A pedometer to track your walking goals.

How To Stay Motivated For Walking

  • Ask a friend to join you in your new exercise routine.
  • Walk your dog in the morning or evening.
  • Go for a stroll with your friends or family in the evening or after dinner.
  • Walk to your nearest grocery store or a nearby place.
  • Think about the money you can save by walking.
  • Use a walking planner to find out the best walking route, measure heart rate, calories burned, count steps, etc.
  • Explore different paths every day.
  • Join a walking group.
  • Go on hiking trips.
  • Walk for a social cause.
Did You Know?
You can manage muscle soreness and pain after walking by applying heat packs. Placing feet in warm water mixed with Epsom salt also helps.

Useful Tip

If you are new to walking, you cannot walk for long distances immediately. Break up your walking routine. Start by walking 10 minutes every day. Gradually increase this duration to 30 minutes a day. Then, you can walk for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. Also, gradually increase the pace of your walking. After walking, stretch your leg and calf muscles for 20 seconds to cool down the activated muscles.

The benefits of walking are quite innumerable. It helps enhance your metabolism and sets the stage clear for weight loss besides improving the markers of cardiovascular health and minimizing the risk of heart ailments. Moreover, this aerobic exercise can help manage hypertensioni  XAn abnormally high blood pressure level that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. (by increasing blood circulation) and diabetes (by controlling blood sugar levels) and allows you to get a toned and fitter body with stronger bones. Remember, you must walk at least 10,000 steps a day, and do not forget to do warm-up exercises before and after walking to reduce the risk of injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is walking good for you?

Yes, walking is good for you as it is an aerobic exercise that burns calories, improves circulation, and makes you feel energized. If you are a beginner, start walking for 30 minutes at a slow pace and increase the time and intensity every day.

Is too much walking harmful?

Yes. You should always aim to do aerobic exercises, like walking, for no more than 1-2 hours a day. Walking for more than 2 hours may strain your knees and legs and exhaust your energy.

Is walking better than running?

Walking has more benefits compared to running. As walking is a low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise, it helps you lose weight, improves your heart health, and increases your lung capacity. However, running burns more calories and aids weight loss.

How much walking is enough exercise?

You should aim to walk 1 hour a day at a speed of around 6 km/hr to improve your health.

Can I get in shape by walking?

Getting in shape means you need to focus more on losing inches. Walking offers overall health benefits, but to get in shape, you need to combine aerobic exercises like walking with strength training.

Does walking reduce belly fat?

Yes. Regular walking can help reduce visceral body fat (fat stored deep inside the belly) (19).

Does walking tone your legs?

Yes. Aerobic exercises like walking can help tone your legs (20).

Is walking better than the gym?

Yes. Walking is an effective and more convenient way for weight loss and health when compared to a gym (21).

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
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