Benefits of Walking | The Giving Nature

Benefits of Walking | The Giving Nature

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The benefits of walking put it in a league of its own. Walking, or pedestrianism, as it’s also called, is more than just a cheap, sustainable way to get from A to B. It supersedes other forms of exercise because it’s so accessible and affordable. And the health benefits of walking get seen on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.

Did you know that walking for as little as 15 minutes a day may help you avoid chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even certain cancers?

We will show you how, just by walking more, you can reduce your chances of getting the major chronic diseases that are so prevalent in our society.

Are you keen to start walking every day? Not sure where and how to start?

We explain why walking is so good for you and provide information on how you can easily implement new habits that include both a daily walking schedule and a healthy eating plan. The benefits of walking are within everyone’s reach. You can be old, young, rich, poor, healthy, or sick, walking daily will enrich every aspect of your life.

Let’s get started!

Contents

What Are The Major Causes Of Death Around The World?

In the United States, the 4 leading causes of death are:

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD), ischaemic diseases, also known as heart diseases.
  • Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)
  • Obesity
  • Cancers

In Europe, circulatory diseases lead the way, followed by cancers. And this mirrors the results above because circulatory diseases are also known as ischaemic heart diseases. And that is just the proper name for the hardening of the arteries.

In lower-income countries, these statistics do change quite a bit. Poverty means people eat less but also walk more. People in developing countries often walk miles to get to and from school and work.

Studies have shown that there’s a direct correlation between how active people are to how healthy people are. These studies show that exercise reduces blood pressure, increases insulin sensitivity, and lowers lipoprotein levels (cholesterol). Diet also plays a role. And it’s a proven fact that sedentary lifestyles coupled with high carb, high sugar meals lead to these chronic diseases and deaths that are avoidable.

What Are The Physical Benefits Of Walking?

This is what walking does short-term:

  • Increases breathing
  • Increases heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure

And over time, with regular walking this happens:

  • Blood sugar levels stabilise
  • Cardiovascular fitness improves
  • Muscle strength and stamina increase
  • Cholesterol levels drop
  • Insulin sensitivity increases
  • Appetite improves (you make healthier diet choices)
  • Stress is reduced
  • Sleep improves
  • Excess weight is lost

And in the long term, with faster, further continued walking:

  • Hormones function as they should which means the thyroid works, insulin resistance disappears, leptin and ghrelin are balanced, bones are strengthened, immunity is boosted, the appetite is healthy. All this reduces the risk of diabetes, CVD, and obesity.
  • Blood circulation improves, lipoprotein profiles drop, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s and ultimately heart disease and strokes. Good circulation also reduces the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.
  • Cognitive function improves, improving memory, overall quality of life and independence, and longevity. (Avoid many old-age diseases)
  • Reduced medical, health care, and hospital costs.
  • Mental health improves.

The 9 Main Health Benefits Of Walking

Walking impacts all the systems of the body. A healthy eating plan to suit individual needs should be implemented with walking workout schedules. This is an effective, practical, holistic approach to fitness and health.

1. Healthy heart – improved fitness levels – reduced risk of heart disease.

2. Healthy hormones – effective metabolism, increased insulin sensitivity, strong bones – reduced risk of obesity, and diabetes. Strengthens immunity. Boosts positivity. Improves sleep.

3. Balanced blood sugar levels –  increased insulin sensitivity – reduced risk of diabetes.

4. Lowers blood pressure – reduced risk of heart disease.

5. Lowers cholesterol – healthy blood lipid levels – reduced risk of heart disease.

6. Improves brain function – improved moods, good memory, better sleep, longevity.

7. Strengthens immunity – strong bones – reduced risk of osteoporosis.

8. Improves breathing – improves the lungs, reduces the risk of CVD, COPD, and T2D. Studies show how breathing exercises can increase lung capacity 

9. Reduces stress – improved hormonal function – weight-loss- reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, and CVD. improves sleep.

The Main Benefits of Walking Explained in More Detail

The Main Benefits of Walking Explained in More Detail

1. Walking Leads to a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the world’s worst killer. It’s often referred to as the “silent killer” because it comes out of nowhere and strikes people down. The symptoms that lead up to heart disease often go unnoticed because they develop over time. This gradual decline in health is often overlooked as we adapt to subpar health conditions quicker than we care to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

a) Walking increases cardiovascular fitness and stamina

Studies show that walking is a good place to start to improve cardiovascular health, which is of vital importance to general health. A healthy heart means the rest of the body is getting fresh, clean, oxygen-filled blood delivered. And a healthy heart means good circulation and strong immune-support.

b) Walking strengthens muscles and bones.

We get taught that the skeletal system It’s is a little known fact that the skeletal system, or the bones, produce a hormone called

c) Walking benefits the entire circulatory system

The heart is the epicentre of the circulatory system but the entire system is crucial to all the other systems. From our immune systems to our skeletal system, they all depend on proper blood flow and pressure to get the nutrients and hormones needed and to get the toxins and waste efficiently removed. Our circulatory system functions optimally when we stay fit and eat healthily.

2. Walking May Lead To Hormonal Harmony

a) Walking and the Endocrine System

Walking is a way to get your body back in sync. When you walk for long enough your heart rate increases and your breathing quickens. This movement triggers numerous actions, reactions, and responses in the body, at hormonal levels.

Walking can reduce stress thanks to increased blood flow. The stress hormones are the first set of hormones to react. When stress responses get activated the hormones needed to keep the endocrine system functioning optimally don’t get activated. Instead, cortisol and adrenaline get released. Long term this could lead to adrenal fatigue and insulin resistance, which could lead to diabetes, CVD, and obesity. The endocrine system is vital for digestion, elimination, stable blood sugar(insulin), blood lipoprotein levels (cholesterol), thyroid gland function, and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone).

Walking strengthens bones by keeping hormones working. A protein, osteocalcin, in bones gets secreted and acts as a hormone. The bones store minerals and fats. Osteocalcin is partly responsible for getting the fats and minerals to the right places. No osteocalcin production leads to loss of bone density and increases the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.

b) Walking can create a healthy appetite

A healthy appetite means we know when we feel full and we get the correct signals about hunger when leptin and ghrelin do their jobs. We don’t get unhealthy cravings for carbs and sugar so we make better food choices. Bad sleep leads to leptin resistance. Women are more prone to this and it becomes more difficult to lose weight.

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3. Can Walking Reduce the Risk of Diabetes?

Studies show that walking can reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. T2D is a consequence of insulin resistance. And the result is often only treated too late. To treat Type 2 Diabetes correctly a change from a sedentary lifestyle and incorrect eating has to be adhered to. Taking medication is not a cure it’s just putting off the reality of what needs to be done to correct it.

Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, impaired metabolism, and T2D.

Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar. Insulin resistance develops when blood sugar levels are constantly high. When we eat foods with a high glycaemic index (GI) or meals that have a high glycaemic load (GL) our blood sugar spikes and then crashes. The effect on the body is a sharp rise in energy levels followed by a sudden slump. Over time this creates insulin resistance.

When insulin can longer carry out its function or becomes depleted. We have a limited supply of insulin, certain hormones get produced in lower quantities as we age and other hormones, like insulin, can run out. It is good practice to watch how much sugar gets consumed on a daily basis. It also accounts for the popularity in diets that advocate against added sugars and refined sugars. Sugar in fruit, when fruit is consumed as it should be (raw and fresh) is good for us as we need glucose for energy. Insulin resistance means blood can’t transport sugar to the liver as it should. Sugar then ends up in the bloodstream instead of in the liver or the pancreas.

Walking stabilises blood sugar levels. Walking can help you lose weight. Walking can lead to increased insulin sensitivity. This not only reduces the risk of T2D it can also reverse pre-diabetes.

5 Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance or Increase Insulin Sensitivity

1. Get more sleep

Studies show walking improves sleep, especially walking outside and being exposed to blue light which keeps our circadian cycle in sync. This leads to the correct functioning of ghrelin and leptin, hormones that control appetite.

2. Lose weight

As mentioned above leptin, ghrelin, along with insulin are the hormones that influence appetite. And walking keeps these hormones working well, as this study proves.

3. Reduce stress

There are breathing techniques that can take the body from a place of stress (which will cause cortisol and other stress hormones to be released) to a place of normality. You can check this state by observing if you are breathing from your chest (stress) or from your stomach.

As soon as you focus on your breathing your immediate flight or flight response normalises. Breathe in by allowing your stomach to push out as you inhale. Exhale by sucking your stomach in. This moves the breathing from the chest only (which is increasing heart rate) back to a calm regular rhythm.

Get into the habit of checking yourself, in traffic, at work during altercations or confrontations, waiting in queues, etc. Do this by placing one hand on your chest and one on your stomach so you can see where your breathing is coming from and then rectify it.

4. Exercise more

As mentioned exercise will improve cardiovascular fitness and stabilise blood glucose levels. Reducing the risk of pre-diabetes.

5. Change your eating habits

Eat more soluble fibre. Eat the rainbow. Functional Medicine advocates eating meals that contain 7-10 portions of foods from the main colour groups which are red, orange, purple, yellow, brown, and white.

Dr Mark Hyman, author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, is an advocate of functional medicine but he has gone further and in his book he describes how eating a type of paleo diet with the main focus on plant-based fats and vegetables low in carbs has improved his well-being tremendously. Some people go even further and adopt a diet called vegan keto, which is like ketotarianism but without the eggs and dairy.

4. Walking Boosts Brain Power

a) The Benefits Walking Has on Mental Health

Walking, and other cardio exercises, help the brain to produce and release neurotrophins and neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones are the “feel good” hormones. When these are balanced and functioning well our moods are elevated and we feel calm, confident, and clear-headed. Because our circulatory system works properly our brain can access the nutrients needed for optimal thinking, if we are eating well.

Often depression is a result of a chemical imbalance that prevents us from dealing with daily stress effectively. Walking as exercise may even help to repair these neurons.

b) Can Walking Reduce Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases?

Studies show that Alzheimer’s is a result of plaque build-up in the veins and arteries that supply blood to the body and brain. Other causes could be inflammation, vascular damage, and too many free radicals. This is why there are so many studies trying to prove how good antioxidants are at neutralizing these free radicals and reversing the effects of aging.

5. Walking and Weight Loss

a) Can walking reduce belly fat?

Studies show that walking can reduce abdominal fat (subcutaneous and visceral). Belly fat poses a different type of health risk as opposed to being generally overweight. Belly fat is a sign that you could be developing insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Another study showed that walking is a recommended treatment for insulin resistance. And walking alone cannot remove the subcutaneous fat when there is insulin resistance, suggesting that a program including dietary measures and exercise may be more effective.

b) Walking tones muscles

Studies show that increasing physical activity, even slightly, has positive outcomes. When walking is done regularly a noticeable decrease in the circumference of hips can be seen. Walking improves the tone of muscles. Toned muscles are stronger and can support the skeletal system which allows the bones to be stronger and healthier, and that in turn improves immunity.

Walking For The Soul

Walking For The Soul

So much emphasis is placed on the physical health aspects of walking that we often underestimate the power walking has on the psyche. Our psyche includes not only our brain but also our sense of well-being, our emotional state and our intellectual abilities. A healthy body and a healthy mind hopefully equate to a healthy soul.

Walking is as much a cerebral activity as it is physical. When we walk we have time to slow down the pace, we observe our surroundings and have time to think. This makes walking one of the most holistic forms of physical exercise around.

Choosing where and how to walk can change the benefits of walking immensely. Let’s take a look at how a change of scenery can enhance not only the physical state but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects too.

Benefits of Walking Barefoot

Being barefoot has its own range of benefits that are not always well known or embraced. When we expose the soles of our feet we also expose our immune systems to the surface we are walking on thanks to the nerve endings in our feet. (this is why reflexology is effective).

Walking barefoot may

  • Improve balance and strength
  • Increase body awareness
  • Create a connection between body and mind, improving self-awareness
  • Increases control of movement
  • Improve flexibility in the feet (better foot mechanics),
  • This has a knock-on effect that improves hip and knee flexibility too.
  • Bring about pain relief
  • Work the core, which can improve metabolism because energy burns even after the exercise is over.

Of course, it is not always possible to walk barefoot. Walking in urban areas where there may be litter, dirt, and dangerous objects is not a good idea. Walking on terrain that is uneven is probably better when done barefoot as your feet can “read” the ground better. But then the risk of stubbing a toe or getting cuts and other injuries increase.

Benefits of Walking in Nature

Sometimes the only way people can walk is by using a treadmill and being indoors. But walking in nature, or even in a city or suburb, is always a better option unless air pollution is too extreme.

Walking in nature connects us. It also means we get to breathe fresh air and we get exposed to sunlight. Sunlight on the skin has multiple benefits, as studies show. Sunlight also gives us our daily vitamin D dose.

And sunlight exposes us to blue light. Blue light has shorter wavelengths but higher frequencies. The benefits of blue light include:

  • Increased alertness
  • Improved memory
  • Elevated mood
  • Improved cognitive function

Walking in nature, as opposed to only walking outside (in a town or city), gives us a different experience. It exposes us to sights, sounds, and smells that stimulate our various sensory organs. So as a package we get the benefits of physical exercise, mental stimulation, sensory stimulation, and a spiritual experience as we connect with our natural environment just by being present in the moment, as we walk. Being present like this may lead to meditation which leads to another whole range of mental, emotional, and physical benefits.

Benefits of Walking Meditation

The true meaning of meditation has been lost somewhat and in the broad sense when we talk of meditation we associate it with breathing, stillness, and “not thinking”. This is true to a certain degree and initially, when some people learn to meditate they do so because they cannot still their minds. Racing thoughts can lead to feelings of urgency, anxiety, restlessness, and stress. Many people living fast-paced lives with high-pressure jobs can suffer from a mind that cannot stop thinking.

But the true meaning of meditation is deep thinking. The great minds of the past were all meditators. Even today great mathematicians, theologians, and academics will meditate on complicated equations and complex theories. Philosophers and other truth seekers meditate in order to find answers to the meaning of life. It could be seen as a way of tapping into a universal knowledge base that exists as a separate intangible entity for us to access.

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Henry David Thoreau was a famous walker. He was an essayist, poet, and philosopher. He wrote on the benefits of nature and walking as a balm for the soul. One of his famous essays was titled “Walking”. He wrote it in 1862.

Today we can still benefit from walking as a form of meditation. When we walk in nature and observe our surrounding the natural progression will be a stilling of the mind and eventually, our thoughts will no longer control us. We can then begin to “think”. When we find this happening it can be said we are walking for meditation.

This short clip is an introduction to walking and breathing to reduce stress and increase cardiovascular breathing. It also helps to develop walking and meditating skills.

Walking Yoga

Below is a 4-minute clip explaining how you can incorporate yoga into your walking.

The word yoga means “to unite”. Walking in itself is a form of yoga because when we walk we unite the benefits of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

This is especially so when we walk in nature, or barefoot on a beach.

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Other Benefits Of Walking

Other Benefits Of Walking

Walking is sustainable

What do we mean when we say walking is sustainable? Simply put it means that walking is a form of exercise that can be maintained at a certain rate or level. This makes it the ideal form of exercise for people who are leading sedentary lives and are completely unfit. It is also a great starting point for morbidly obese people. It is a safe way to get more active.

Walking is accessible

Walking is for everyone. If you live in a city without walking paths or pedestrian tracks you can still walk. Incorporate walking by using stairs instead of lifts. Walk to the corner cafe instead of taking a bus to the shopping centre.

All you need to walk is a desire and two legs. Obviously that statement is oversimplified. But in essence that is exactly how accessible walking is.

Walking is affordable

Walking costs nothing. You don’t have to have special clothing or equipment. If you can afford it you have the choice of joining a walking club. Usually, the cost of joining these clubs is minimal.

Or you may choose to travel to the beach for a lovely, relaxing barefoot walk. or organise a walking trip with friends. Driving out to a national park or nature reserve is always pleasant. These parks have proper walking trails. And it is a great way to combine exercise, sightseeing and socialising.

Walking is recreational

Walking a trail, or taking a stroll through a park, with the family is a fun way to spend time together and get fit. Brisk walking will increase fitness levels. While a leisurely stroll is good for the soul.

Walking is social

Often people get together to walk for charity or to raise funds for a cause. Sometimes getting together to walk is purely social, with the benefits of getting fit, spending time outdoors, and interacting with like-minded people.

Walking is competitive

Edward Payson Weston is a famous pedestrian. He popularised the sport of walking. In 1861, he lost a bet regarding the American elections. Lincoln won. Part of his forfeit was to walk from Boston to Washington D.C. He covered the 478 miles in 10 days and 10 hours. He ate while he walked and got no more than 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep along the way.

In 1867, he covered 1200 miles in 26 days and won $10,000. During his walking career, he travelled extensively and got to walk in events all over Europe, even competing in indoor walking events.

Walkability And Livability

In a global drive to reduce the mortality rates due to T2D, obesity, and heart disease, people are being encouraged to get more active. Urban populations are on the rise and often people in cities don’t get exercise as naturally as those who stay in more rural settings.

But for city folk to get more active the walkability of cities has to improve. This means a city has to be planned to accommodate walkers. Footpaths must be structured for easy access. The areas people walk need to be lit up at night, and people must be encouraged to get from a to b on foot, rather than jumping on a bus just to travel a few blocks.

The walkability of a city is measured by how easy it is to walk everywhere, this includes, work, school, and shops. Walkability improves the health, economics, and environment of a place.

How are walkability and livability linked?

A walkable city is a livable city. A city that is planned around walkability is considered walkable. This is the definition of a walkable community according to the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute  “they consider persons, not their automobiles, at the centre of the design scale. When we design communities around the human foot, we create places that are socially, environmentally, and economically vibrant”.

How is walkability measured?

Walk Score is a methodology calculating the walkability of an area, be it town, city, or suburb.

Walking For Fitness

Walking For Fitness

Walking is known as a load-bearing exercise. This is because the body is carrying its own weight. And this is why walking is effective in increasing bone strength, toning muscles, and increasing cardiovascular fitness.

Walking Apps

Walking apps are very popular and can be downloaded onto a smartphone or any other mobile device, android, or iPhone. Many are free. Walking apps track steps (pedometer), speed (accelerator chip), act as GPS, and some even assist with meal planning and fitness goals. Many can hook up to treadmills. Features and functions will vary from app to app. But the basic functionality you need to get started is a pedometer to track steps. It is also convenient to get an app that can monitor your heart rate.

This is a list of 16 popular walking apps:

  • World Walking
  • MapMyWalk
  • FitBit App
  • FitMeUp
  • Argus by Azumo
  • Abvio Walkmeter
  • Charity Miles
  • Endomondo
  • StepTracker
  • MotionX GPS
  • Virtual Walk
  • Walk the Distance
  • Strava
  • Go Jauntly
  • Nike Run Club
  • MyFitnessPal

Walking Gear

When it comes to walking you can get away with spending nothing. If you want to walk for fitness it is a good idea to invest in some good walking shoes though.

Having said that, those who want to and can afford to have an extensive range of walking gear and apparel to choose from.

Walking gear for indoor walking will be the same as if you were going to join a gym. And many people will walk in a gym, or at home, on a treadmill. This includes good shoes with arch support.

If you plan on walking outside but are still going to be walking on structured footpaths, you would buy normal running shoes, again, arch support is vital.

But if you are going to be spending time hiking on trails, or going on walking holidays you’ll want a pair of hiking boots. Terrain will be uneven and rocky in places so normal running shoes will get ruined pretty fast.

You also get walking sticks. These walking sticks can be the traditional kind that you see many people using for support but you also get walking sticks to help you walk up steep inclines when hiking.

Of course, walking gear for hiking can extend to backpacks, water bottles, warm lightweight vests, windbreakers, and even sunglasses and sunscreen.

Walking Hikes and Trails and Walking Holidays

The trails and routes for hiking will differ depending on where you stay. If you are planning a walking holiday you’ll need to plan your trip in advance. Fortunately, this is easy with the internet. You can also contact the resort or tourist board of the place you’ll be travelling to and get them to send you all the info you need.

Walking holidays in Europe are very popular and the countries that offer these walking holiday packages are breathtakingly beautiful. Walk along shaggy cliffs or through winding countryside roads. Often walking holidays are combined with wonderful stops along the way where you get to sample local fare and enjoy the local beers and pub culture of the different countries.

Walking Safety

Safety when walking depends on where you are walking, who you walk with and when you go walking. If you walk in a city, and walking is part of your daily routine to get to school, work or the shops then safety could refer to watching out for petty criminals. It could also mean being aware of uneven surfaces and traffic.

When walking in nature safety could mean making sure you don’t get lost or run into dangerous wildlife. It could also mean looking out for plants like poison ivy.

And of course, safety when walking also refers to your health. If you are recovering from the flu it is advised to take it easy. If you take medication or are not yet walking fit it may be advisable to consult your health care practitioner first.

Safety when walking can also refer to making sure you warm up before you start and cool down at the end. This improves recovery time and prevents injuries and muscle stiffness. You can do this by starting off with a stroll and then pick up the pace or do some stretches before and after.

Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is a way to get even more of a full-body workout than you would with regular walking. It involves walking with walking sticks similar to ski poles. Nordic walking is a great way to get fit as it is more strenuous than a walk in the park or walking to town.

The benefits of Nordic walking include:

  • Increased heart rate and fitness,
  • Better posture
  • Toned muscles
  • Elevated mood
  • Improved immunity
  • Getting back to nature
  • And more
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Walking vs Running: Which is better?

Studies show that walking and running produce very similar results when the same expenditure is released. Walking takes longer so often time constraints mean runners get more exercise time in per week. The study also showed that the risk of hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes is reduced in similar percentages regardless of whether one runs or walks.

Another study showed weight loss in runners was greater over time. The study looked at weight loss over a 6.2 year time period. Interestingly running was also shown to reduce arthritis and other joint-related problems more so than walking.

But best of all is a combination of running and walking. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has shown to produce the best results in terms of both weight loss and fitness goals.

How To Walk To Get Fit: A Short Guide To Walking For Fitness

Guide To Walking For Fitness

The First Steps

1. Commit –

Commit to walking daily, or three to four times a week.

2. Set Goals –

Aim for 75 minutes a week and work up to 150 minutes and then to 300.

3. Adopt new habits –

If you are very unfit, start off by changing some habits. For instance, do 2 minutes of walking on the spot (if you are housebound) or go for a short walk at a pace you can manage, even if it is to the corner and back, up and down one flight of stairs or around the block. Then set a target and increase this every week.

In general, you can also change habits by taking stairs not lifts. Walk to the shop, don’t drive or take public transport. Park further away when going to the mall. Find a park or walking trail near your home and start walking that route daily.

4. Join a walking club or find a charity walk and start training for it.

Once your fitness improves you will want to step it up a notch. And by walking with people or for a cause, you not only stay motivated but you also get to be more sociable and this is good for mental health and emotional support.

How To Step-Up Walking Workouts

1. Increase Speed –

From the start, get into the habit of timing your daily walk. After a week or a time that you have committed to, pick up the pace, and try to cover the same distance faster.

2. Increase Distance –

Once you have increased your speed, increase your distance. This could mean doing your circuit twice or just walking further before turning around to walk back.

3. Increase Time Spent Walking (per week) –

As your fitness increases, you will immediately feel the benefits of better sleep and improved appetite. This is because you are breathing deeper and improving your circulation, and increasing your heart rate. In short, you are getting fitter. Now is the time to up your time spent walking.

You can do this by extending your route (distance) but also by adding an extra walking day to your walking routine. Or by walking for longer. So if you started out walking ten minutes daily make it twenty. Remember, you set the goals. And if you keep them attainable you will stay motivated and committed and see results.

4. Add Weights –

Add ankle weights or walk using dumbbells. As your fitness increases, you can increase the weight of the dumbbells or ankle weights.

5. Change it up –

Once you reach your set targets, change your route. Try a different park or go to another beach. Walk in the morning instead of the evening. Or change your days. Take the dog for a walk. Or introduce the walking technique. Walk briskly for two minutes and then increase your speed for one minute. The time you choose is up to you. For instance, you could walk for 5 minutes and then increase your speed for 2.

List of FAQs on Walking for Fitness and Walking for Weight Loss

When walking what should heart rate be?

This depends on your age. You will have a resting heart rate and then a target heart rate. 10-15 minutes of brisk walking should increase your heart rate by about 10 – 20 beats per minute (bpm) So if your resting heart rate is 100 then after 10-15 minutes of brisk walking it should be 120bpm.

The chart below shows what your target heart rate should be according to your age. To calculate your maximum heart rate minus your age from 220.

The target heart rate chart

Table courtesy of heart.org

When walking how many steps in a mile?

The average stride is between 2.1 and 2.5 feet. This means that 2,000 steps are roughly equal to 1 mile. The average person who is leading a fairly sedentary lifestyle will not walk more than 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day.

Will walking burn fat?

It depends how fast you walk and how long you walk for. Walking for 45 minutes at a brisk pace will raise your metabolism. And you can start burning stored fat, specifically the “belly” fat (visceral fat). Excess abdominal fat increases the risk of T2D and heart disease.

Will walking tone my legs?

Yes, walking 30 minutes, 4 – 6 a week, will definitely tone the muscles in your legs. When walking to get fit you can walk at your own pace and even walking for 10 minutes at a time will be beneficial. But to tone muscles, you will need to pick up the pace. Nordic walking is a great way to tone up.

Will walking tone my body?

Not only will you tone your legs but your thighs will become more toned too. And the circumference of your waist will get reduced. Walk with determination and be aware of your posture and breathing. Walking technique is important when walking to lose weight and tone muscles.

What happens when we walk for 30 minutes?

30 minutes of brisk walking a day will:

  • Increase cardiovascular fitness
  • Strengthen bones
  • Reduce excess body fat by toning muscles
  • Boost stamina
  • Reduce risks of developing metabolic diseases, heart disease, and T2D

What are the benefits of walking 45 minutes a day?

By increasing your walking time from 30 minutes a day to 45 you will burn more calories and burn more belly fat. Your immunity will also get an extra boost. 30 minutes a day will tone your muscles but 45 minutes will increase your metabolism just that bit more so the benefits will be slightly greater.

But remember walking is not a miracle cure for losing weight and even though you will increase your fitness levels you will not lose weight unless you are eating a well-balanced, healthy diet. If you embark on a fat-burning diet, such as a ketotarian diet or switch from your regular diet to a low carb diet you will increase your chances of weight loss.

How often should we walk to increase fitness?

By walking for 75 minutes a week you can increase your fitness. This equates to 15 minutes a day, 5 times a week. You will need to raise your heart rate during the walk, in order to get fitter. So even though you may only be able to manage a stroll to begin with, it’s a good idea to set goals that will motivate you to gradually increase your pace and your weekly time.

Get Walking! A Walking Initiative

10,000 Step Challenge

The 10,000 Step Challenge is possibly the most well-known walking initiative to be introduced globally, in recent years. With the increased awareness of walkability in cities and walking for fitness and health, the 10,000 step challenge provides a way to get people walking.

The increase of lifestyle diseases, or metabolic diseases, is proof that people are moving less and eating more. Healthy people are happier and more productive. The 10,000 step challenge is creating awareness and motivating entire countries to get more active. The healthier the population the less the medical costs. Children need to be taught the importance of health and it starts with taking responsibility for what one eats and what one does.

10,000 steps a day is quite a lot. It equates to 5 miles. The benefits of walking so many steps a day is evident, as we can see from this article. It is a very positive initiative and is having excellent results across the global at international, national and local levels.

Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk

So what can we take away from this article on the benefits of walking?

We now know that walking as little as 10-15 minutes a day can improve health both mentally and physically. Walking every day will increase fitness, boost immunity, elevate moods, and reduce the risks of diseases like T2D, heart disease, obesity and even some cancers (reduced inflammation).

Walking has other benefits too. It is a cheap, accessible form of exercise, it is good for the environment, and an alternative mode of transport. Walking can be undertaken for pleasure, relaxation, or exercise. The social aspect of walking is also beneficial.

Where and when you walk should also be considered. Outdoor walking brings mental and spiritual benefits, especially if one walks in nature. Walking is a safe way to exercise as it is low impact. And getting fresh air and sunlight has its own set of benefits.

Walking coupled with a suitable eating plan is the ideal way to improve your health mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As the saying goes, “You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?” In this case, we are left with no doubt.

YES, WE CAN!

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Luiz Presso
Luiz Presso