As the world began experiencing what 2020 had in store for us all, one of the ways I remained active while gyms were closed was walking outside daily.
I’m fortunate enough to live in a neighbourhood that has an abundance of walking trails and green spaces, so committing to the act of walking outside daily has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (hate to sound cliché like that, I’m simply stating facts).
Let me explain why getting into the habit of daily outdoor walks WILL improve multiple different aspects of your life and your overall health.
Walking daily can help prevent (or even manage) certain chronic conditions
According to the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and even certain types of cancers can be avoided with the simple act of taking a brisk daily walk.
Moving your body as a whole functional unit keeps not only your blood circulating, but also keeps your lymph moving and eliminating any potentially harmful buildup through eliminating it via our lymphatic system!
Walking daily will also improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
This one study conducted on a group of young sedentary people (ages 19 to 36 years) found that implementing one hour of brisk walking on a daily basis improved the quality of their sleep significantly, which makes perfect sense when we really think about it.
As human beings, we were designed to be active and move around. For majority of our ancestral past, we were required to actively work for our survival. The task of staying alive was a highly tiresome and energy-demanding task, which has since undeniably become a lot easier in the modern world.
As a result, a lot of the energy we consume through the food we eat isn’t being utilized by our bodies, and may instead be turned into fat. If we have a job that requires us to sit for hours at a time, or are a student having to learn in a seated position for countless hours – we all could benefit from the simple act of getting out for a daily walk and moving like we were intended to as humans.
Walking daily can also help alleviate joint pain and stiffness
As you walk, blood flow is increased to the working joints and muscles. This increased blood flow will help loosen up tensed muscles, alleviating joint pain while also strengthening supporting muscles, which is essential for our longevity!
This study found that walking was a simple, cost-effective way for people with arthritis to manage their symptoms. Despite their physical activity level, exercise such as walking has been proven to help those suffering from arthritis reduce their symptoms of pain, disability and functional limitations while also improving their sleep, mental health and overall quality of life.
Walking will stimulate your digestive system
Walking daily especially after a heavy meal will stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, helping facilitate the digestion of consumed food. Our parasympathetic nervous system is part of our autonomous nervous system, controlling our body’s ability to relax (being on the flip side of our sympathetic nervous system, which is our body’s ‘fight or flight’ response).
Walking will help regulate our nervous system, meaning that going on a walk after eating a meal will encourage our bodies to move from being in an aroused state of stress responses into a more relaxed state of digestion.
I won’t get carried away as I’m sure you get the point I’ trying to make here. Walking is a form of physical activity that is easily accessible to people of varying activity levels, and is also an easy activity to add into a daily routine to improve your overall health and wellbeing!
Give daily walking a try for a minimum of 12 weeks (be consistent about it and honest with yourself) and let me know what changes you notice in your life!