Walking is a simple way to increase your health and longevity with little effort. Here are five reasons you should do intentional walking at a moderate intensity (fast enough that conversation makes you a little breathless) for 30 minutes a day:
Reduces chronic diseases. Walking at a moderate pace can decrease your risk for diabetes, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If that came in a pill form, everyone would be on it.
Enhances bone and joint health. Walking puts very little stress on joints compared to other types of exercises, and it is very hard to do wrong. Studies show it can also reduce the risk for osteoporosis. Patients often state that after they’ve been walking a while, they can’t walk fast enough to feel a moderate intensity. The easy fix? Wear a weighted vest or ankle weights.
Positively impacts mental health. Studies show walking to be just as effective, if not slightly better than some anti-depressant medications.1 Another study showed that just 10 minutes of walking (especially in nature) significantly reduces anxiety symptoms.2 My favorite mental health boost that comes from walking is that of socialization. My walks are often when I connect with friends, my husband, or my kids; whoever decides to accompany me that day. If no one is available, I use that time to listen to my favorite music, a book, or a podcast, or take the time to meditate.
Boosts your immune system. A daily walk can decrease your likelihood of coming down with colds and catching viruses.
Helps manage weight. Walking is a powerful tool for weight loss if done consistently. To boost the benefits, walk after meals, and in combination with a healthy diet. And it is pretty cheap; no gym membership required. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
Our desert heat makes it a little difficult to get out during the day, but early morning and dusk are perfect for walking. Start with just a few minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. If you don’t want to get outside, you can always hop on a treadmill. It doesn’t matter how or where, just incorporate this habit into your daily routine for better health all around.
Dr. Fayssoux is an integrative primary care practitioner with Ohm & Oot Wellness Medicine in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 469.9900. For more information visit www.KinderFayssouxMD.com.
1) Netz Y. Is the Comparison between Exercise and Pharmacologic Treatment of Depression in the Clinical Practice Guideline of the American College of Physicians Evidence-Based?. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8:257. ;
2) Jeffrey Conrath Miller et al. Walking facilitates positive affect (even when expecting the opposite) Emotion. 2016 Aug.