Benefits of walking: why you should walk more
Why is walking good for you?We have written before about the wonders of walking but we never tire of hearing how amazing this activity can be for people’s health. Now a health expert has once again revealed that walking for just half an hour a day is equivalent to taking a "magic pill" that combats ageing and prevents premature death. Dr James Brown surprised an audience at the British Science Festival recently by presenting the myriad benefits of a “pill” that could maintain healthy living and improve quality of life. He described the walking wonder-drug as the ideal way to prevent obesity and diabetes, lower the risk of some cancers, relieves depression and anxiety, increases mobility and reduces the chances of hip fracture by 40 per cent.
Top 10 benefits of walking
1. Stress buster:Research has shown that even a short walk, for example at lunchtime, can help people to feel less stressed. Being outdoors and walking helps to change your perceptions of stress in domestic and office situations.
2. Healthy hearts:Research has found time and again that walking reduces the risk of heart disease, helps to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol and adds longevity to people’s lives.
3. Clear your head:You will have heard people saying: “I went for a walk to clear my head.” Well, a walk, especially in a green or natural environment, does just that. It allows your mind to free itself from all your tangled up thoughts and relax into a better frame of mind. Giving your brain a rest form the continual processing and lists of everyday life is called “soft fascination”.
4. Spirit lifting:Research, including a study a couple of years ago in Glasgow, found that walking in green spaces, such as the park or countryside, can cut your chances of depression by up to 50%.
5. Creative juices:A field of thought, called Purposeless Walking, urges more people to walk without an aim. In doing so, the mind is freed of the usual thought processes of having to be at a set place at a set time and therefore allows you to think more freely. It’s claimed that when you let go of your usual thoughts you can be more creative. I find that when I walk or cycle great ideas pop into my head. Do you?
6. Better relationships:Walking and talking is such a fine combination. Without other distractions, such as TVs, mobile phones and general chores, walkers are free to communicate unhindered with their walking pals and partners. Research has also found that families that regularly walk or cycle together have better relationships in the long term.
7. Stay in shape:Walking is a great form of exercise and is one of the best ways to keep weight down and tone your legs and bums. Add walking poles for an upper body workout as well.
8. Easy accessible:Almost everyone can enjoy a walk. It could be a quick hike around the local park or a stroll to the shops. You do not need much in the way of equipment for a short walk so there are really no excuses! And if you fancy taking your walking further there are so, so many choices, from hill hikes to countryside trails and even a walking holiday.
9. See new places:Walking takes you to places that bikes and public transport so often can't. Whether it's a walk around a park or completely off the beaten track, you'll discover so many new locations and views.
10. The perfect pace:At walking pace you see and hear more in the natural environment. I have lost count of the many times I have spotted a new wildflower, wild mushrooms, seen wildlife or heard the sounds of nature around me. This weekend it was the eerie sound of rutting stags that most caught my attention while walking a remote Scottish glen.
- This is an updated version of a post originally published in September 2014
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