Walking or strolling is one of the exercises that, besides being pleasant, can make you feel better . Many people think that if the exercise is not of high intensity it is not possible to benefit from physical activity. But walking or hiking is free, easy and injury-proof.
Walking is an aerobic exercise and as such brings many benefits to those who practice it. For example, a study conducted by the University of Tennessee found that women who walked daily had less body fat than those who did not, and had a lower risk of blood clots.
Therefore, the next time you decide to sit on the couch think about going for a walk , because, besides enjoying the landscape, you will get both psychological and physical benefits.
Related article: “The 10 Psychological Benefits of Physical Exercise”
The benefits of walking
But what are the benefits of walking? Here are the benefits.
1. helps you sleep better
Walking helps release serotonin (5-HT), a neurotransmitter derived from an amino acid called tryptophan . One of its functions is to increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles . In addition, in order to rest and be calm, serotonin is involved in the control of stress and body temperature.
Walking increases serotonin levels so it helps you sleep better. A study carried out at the University of Sao Paulo that evaluated a group of subjects with insomnia, and compared the effect that both moderate aerobic exercise (for example, walking) and vigorous aerobic exercise had on them, concluded that moderate aerobic exercise was the one that achieved the greatest benefits in terms of sleep quality.
2. Improves mood
A study by California State University, Long Beach, showed that the more steps, the better the mood . Why? As stated in the previous point, walking releases serotonin, better known as the chemical of happiness. But it also releases endorphins, natural opiates that make us feel really good.
3. Improves circulation
Walking improves blood circulation and prevents cardiovascular disease .
A University of Colorado and University of Tennessee study found that subjects in their research who walked one to two miles a day lowered their blood pressure by almost 11 points in 24 weeks. Subjects who walked a half-hour a day reduced their risk of having a heart attack by 20 percent.
4. Increases life expectancy
As research from the University of Michigan Medical School states, those 50- or 60-year-old individuals who walk regularly are 35 percent less likely to die in the next eight years than those who do not walk.
5. Prevents cognitive impairment
A study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) involving 6,000 subjects aged 65 and older found that the more we walk, the slower the cognitive decline. Subjects who walked 2.5 miles a day had 17 percent less memory loss.
6. Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
A study conducted at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men aged 71 to 93 who walked a quarter mile a day had a 50 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease , compared to those men the same age who did not walk.
7. Walking makes you lose weight
Walking is an excellent exercise for losing weight when someone is not yet in good physical condition. For weight loss, especially in the early stages, aerobic work such as walking is optimal, as it is easy to perform, poses little risk of injury and generates a predictable and regular energy expenditure. Being a low-impact activity does not put any stress on your body as running, jumping or even dancing would. This makes it ideal for older adults, people with a tendency to joint pain and anyone who wants to leave sedentary life behind and live a more active life.
When it comes to burning fat, physical activity and daily activities require 20% to 30% of the total energy reserve. Digestion uses about 10% of total energy. And basal metabolism, i.e. the energy stored by our body to ensure the functioning of its vital functions (brain, heart, breathing, etc.) means about 50-70% of all stored calories. Research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association concludes that women who walk for nine hours a week experience a lower percentage of body fat and a higher basal metabolic rate
8. Reduces stress
Stress is an epidemic that has taken hold in western societies . The accelerated pace of life that many individuals live, the demands of work or studies, among other situations, can cause really stressful situations.
Walking allows us to improve our respiratory capacity and our oxygenation. to be more relaxed. Furthermore, like any aerobic exercise, walking reduces levels of cortisol , a hormone that is released in response to stress, as confirmed by research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology .
9. Walking strengthens muscles and makes you more resistant
Walking tones up leg, butt and abdominal muscles . This, added to the improvement of your aerobic resistance, can be noticed in the activities you carry out in your daily life, as it will take you longer to become tired or fatigued.
10. Increases vitamin D levels
Walking on a sunny day increases vitamin D levels . This vitamin is mostly obtained by the action of ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D is necessary for normal brain development and may prevent multiple sclerosis (MS).
In addition, joint research by the University of Pittsburgh in the United States and the Technical University of Queensland in Australia concluded that vitamin D may have a regulatory role in the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Do you want to know more about the psychological benefits of vitamin D? Visit our article: “6 vitamins for brain health”