“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day”
Millions of years ago, when human beings evolved to walk on two feet, it gave them the evolutionary advantage of being a persistent hunter.
Other benefits included being able to locate food or potential predators from a greater distance when compared to four-legged animals. Walking is something we naturally learn as toddlers and is counted as one of the earliest major feats we achieve in life.
But apart from giving us the gift of mobility, what else does walking has in the store for us?
Discover some of the most remarkable health benefits of walking as an exercise
1. Goodbye chronic illnesses
According to WHO, chronic diseases (diseases which persist for >3 months) are alone responsible for almost 60% of fatalities across the globe. Long-term ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory illnesses fall under such category.
It is nearly impossible to completely get rid of such ailments. But, the good news is that chronic illnesses can be largely controlled by bringing healthy changes to lifestyle.
Walking is, thus, a boon for people who want to remain healthy.
Studies reveal that 30 minutes of walking every day can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, joint aches and inflammations, asthma and even chronic back pain.
Walking is a relatively simple physical exercise which requires no training or equipment. It is low-impact and especially suitable for people who cannot involve themselves in more vigorous exercise routines.
2. A happy & healthy heart
The cardiac muscles are the most hard-working folks in the human body. With every contraction of these muscles, our heart pumps roughly 70 grams of blood.
If you multiply that amount by the number of times our heart beats per day, you get an equivalent of 9450 liters of blood pumped per day!
The cardiac muscles have the capacity to beat over 3 billion times throughout the lifespan of an average human being.
Now the thing about muscles is that the more you use them in, the stronger they become. And same goes for our heart too.
Walking every day for 20-30 minutes invigorates our heart. Brisk walking temporarily elevates your heart-rate, breathing, and blood pressure. A healthy heart has a direct impact on our blood pressure. Walking unclogs our arteries.
With better blood-flow comes better distribution of oxygen and nutrition at the cellular levels. All in all, a simple stroll through the park every day can go a long way in keeping you healthy and hearty.
3. Battle the silent killer – Obesity
Compared to our ancestors who survived solely by hunting their prey, we are dangerously sedentary.
The net effect of this downward evolution is the rise of the global obesity epidemic. We are sitting more, eating unhealthy, and virtually not moving at all. Our body and metabolism are not designed to handle such sluggishness. The result is alarming rates of obesity taking a toll on our body.
The simple exercise of walking can not only stop this deadly growth of obesity but can also reverse its adverse effects. Walking is a simple exercise that can be added to our more-than-usual busy lifestyle easily.
150 minutes of walking every week (roughly 20-25 minutes of walking per day!) meet the daily requirement of physical activity. You burn layers of fats stored in your body (thanks to our increased sugar consumption) for fuel, and no sooner find yourself free of those pesky love handles and cellulite.
Shedding those extra pounds will get you on track for a disease-free and healthier life.
4. Recharge those grey cells
Just like weight-lifting helps you develop stronger and larger muscle-mass, walking can also beef-up your brain.
Something as simple as walking for 20-30 minutes, 3 times every week for a year can enlarge your hippocampus by 2%.
What is hippocampus, you ask?
Well, it is the region of the brain responsible for storing memories.
Typically, our brain shrinks with age, an effect which becomes more pronounced once we cross the milestone of 50 years.
Developing a habit of walking regularly will counter the degenerative effects of aging on the brain.
Moreover, walking improves the overall cardiovascular health of our body. That translates as improved blood flow. The brain is an organ which consumes 20% of our glucose intake and requires a substantial amount of oxygen to function effectively. Improved blood flow has a direct impact on the health of our brain.
5. Get your creative juices flowing
Did you know that Steve Jobs often conducted meeting whilst walking? Did you also know that even Mark Zuckerberg is a follower of having meetings on foot?
The purpose here is not to bring into limelight their respective physical health, but to talk about their levels of innovativeness and creativity. Scientists have enough evidence to link the simple act of walking with enhanced levels of creativity.
Many psychologists contend that when are walking, we are constantly surveying our surroundings. We are subconsciously mapping streets, trees, sidewalks, lanes etc.
This very act gently nudges our brain to organize and map different thoughts.
Map them in a way that often leads to “Eureka” moments. Since we have evolved from ancestors whose entire lives revolved around surveying landscapes for hunting and habitation, walking simply unlocks the problem-solving potential of the brain.
6. Walking and immunity
When we engage in the physical act of walking, three major things happen.
First, the fast-paced breathing forces out toxic bacteria and virus from our lungs.
Second, the increased blood flow helps in better circulation of WBCs (antibodies) throughout our body.
And third, it increases our core temperature which prevents the growth of microbes.
The net result?
High immunity levels. Yes, it is true that regular walking can bring down your chances of catching a cold and flu by 30%.
Regular walking is also associated with lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Stress has debilitating effects on the immunity system, making your more susceptible to infections (sometimes even fatal ones). So, one more reason to start walking is to boost your disease-fighting capacity.
7. Burn it fast!
For people who have a hard time shedding pounds, the mention of metabolism brings nightmares.
This is because many people in spite of consuming dangerous levels of calories (read: unhealthy) can still manage to have lean physiques.While others struggle even after hitting the gym every morning. Metabolism refers to the speed with which we burn off calories.
Some are naturally gifted with faster metabolisms, while others are cursed with a sluggish one.
Irrespective of your predisposition, walking regularly as soon as you wake up can bring a dramatic improvement in your metabolism.
The act of walking early morning accelerates metabolism to the extent that you automatically burn more calories throughout the day. Believe it or not, walking does “wake-up” your metabolic system and ensures fast and effective burning of those glucose and fat molecules.
8. More sunshine to you
Did you know that there does exist a miracle drug which can drastically cut down your chances of osteomalacia, rickets, bone fractures, certain cancers, depression, obesity, autoimmune diseases and even autism?
Yes, and it’s none other than Vitamin D.
This wonder vitamin, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced in our bodies in the presence of sunlight.
It plays an important role in maintaining healthy levels of immunity and regulating the life cycle of cells and tissues.
Whether you are going for an early morning stroll or a brisk morning walk session, you are gaining healthy sunlight exposure. This triggers the production of vitamin D in the body without causing any harm to your skin. This implies that just by sticking to a simple morning-walk routine, you are actually shielding your body against life-threatening diseases.
9. Age is just a number
We love quoting this line while blowing out birthday candles every year. Yet, deep within we are well aware of the harsh realities of an aging body.
Creaking joints, sagging skin, reduced stamina and a gradually depleting memory – no wonder our mythologies are replete with stories of people craving for eternal youth. Hands down, everybody is scared of aging yet no one escapes it.
Or is there an escape route to avoid all the bodily deterioration? Yes, you guessed it right; walking can be the elixir to a youthful life.
Walking regularly strengthens your bones and muscles. It helps in the production of collagen, a protein that keeps our skin tight and supple. It improves our overall cardiovascular health.
The regular boosts of endorphins keep us stress-free. Not to mention, how walking increases our grey cells.Do you observe a pattern here?
Walking is probably the easiest, simple, and pill-free way to delay aging and its side-effects.
So what are you waiting for? Grab those walking shoes and start your journey towards an improved mind and body, one step at a time!
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