Let’s start with convenience. Walking is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get exercise. Walking requires no special equipment, typically only shoes (preferably comfortable and supportive, although you can also walk barefoot!) and comfortable clothes. Although in a pinch, you can walk for 10 minutes in just about anything you happen to be wearing. You can walk anywhere: around the block; across a parking lot; on a greenbelt; or around a park. Weather’s bad? Not a problem. You can walk through a store or a shopping mall, find some stairs, or find an open event or convention center to walk through. You can even walk in place. If you’re traveling, you can walk while sightseeing; walk in areas surrounding your hotel; walk through neighborhoods if you’re staying with family or friends; or walk up and down the corridors of your hotel if it’s not safe to go outside. Walking does not require any special training or coordination. Walking is free, so it saves you the cost of a gym membership (you can always do arm exercises with light weights while you walk!).
There are many health benefits from walking. Walking can help you maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of obesity. Walking can help you tone your legs and abdominals. Walking will strengthen your bones. Walking tunes up your cardiovascular system. Walking will improve your blood sugar levels and your blood lipid profile. Walking can reduce your risk for and help you manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, dementia, and breast and colon cancer (a study by Yale researchers published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that women who walk regularly after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a 45% greater chance of survival than those who are inactive). Walking can help get you off medication. And walking can even help fade fibromyalgia pain.
Let’s look at the mental benefits from walking. Walking lifts your mood. Walking helps you get clarity; you can clear out your cluttered mind. Walking is good for problem-solving because it allows you to focus or think. Walking is calming. Walking relieves stress. Walking in nature can be a spiritual experience. You can even meditate while walking.
There are many other benefits of walking. Walking gives you extra energy (it may even boost your sex life). Walking is easy on your joints. Walking helps you sleep better. You can walk alone, with a buddy, or with a group (the more, the merrier); walking is a great opportunity for bonding and relationship building. Walking gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with friends or family. Walking is a great outlet for difficult conversations (with spouse/significant other, child, parent, friend, colleague); walking side-by-side rather than face-to-face can make it easier to be candid and open. You can walk (or hike) in beautiful, scenic areas and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells.
I’m sure this list is far from complete! If you like this post, please share your comments or other benefits of walking that I missed.