There are a lot of good reasons to go for a walk. It’s fun, it’s relaxing and most importantly, it’s good for your health. When you look at all of the health benefits of walking, it almost seems too good to be true!
Thankfully walking is an easy, low-impact workout that almost anyone can do.
It can be done indoors on a treadmill, in your neighborhood, or in any outdoor space from city streets to remote nature trails.
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How will you benefit from daily walks?
The Mayo Clinic reports that regular brisk walking can help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve muscle endurance
- Increase energy levels
- Improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthen immune system
- Reduce stress and tension
Walking Gets You Outside In The Fresh Air and Sunshine
No matter how fast or slow you walk, walking gets you outside and in the fresh air (assuming you don’t go the treadmill route).
The quality of the air you breathe outside is generally better than in any indoor area. As you walk, you will naturally breathe more deeply, pulling more oxygen into your lungs. This will be especially true if you walk in a natural area such as a park or on a beach.
The sunshine you will absorb through your skin will help your body produce the Vitamin D that it needs. Vitamin D helps absorb all the calcium you need. Vitamin D also influences cell growth and immune function, keeps inflammation in check, and keeps your nervous system functioning optimally.
In addition to the physical health benefits, walking in nature outdoors is a tremendous mood booster. So do it for your mental health, as well.
Walking Can Help You Lose Weight And Maintain A Healthy Weight
Walking regularly can help you get to and then maintain a healthy weight.
Generally, you will still need to eat a healthy diet, too, but walking is an excellent tool to help you drop those extra pounds in conjunction with nutritious eating.
If you are a beginning walker, you will burn extra calories due to the unaccustomed effort you are exerting.
As you develop a consistent walking habit, your overall strength and endurance increase, allowing you to walk longer, further, and faster. In turn, this helps burn even more calories.
Walking Improves Your Sense Of Balance And Coordination
As you walk, particularly when walking over rougher terrain, you’re also working on your sense of balance and coordination.
We tend to lose balance and coordination as we age, and both are vital to avoid falls and injuries. It’s important that we make the effort to keep working our balance and coordination and walking helps.
Just getting in the habit of going for a daily walk will help.
But you can work even more on your sense of balance by moving your head around, changing your gait and pace, and pumping your arms.
Walking Strengthens Your Bones and Muscles
Even though walking is a low-impact form of exercise, it helps to strengthen and tone your body. As you get more fit, consider adding weight lifting exercises in addition to your daily walks to continue to get stronger and help develop strong muscles and bones.
Walking Will Boost Your Mood and Fight Depression
The exercise of walking releases endorphins that will help lift your mood and can even reduce depression.
The next time you’re feeling tired or are in a bad mood, lace up your sneakers and go for a brisk walk. You’ll find your mood lifting with every step you take.
For an extra boost of good feelings, sign up for a phone app that allows you to fundraise for a good cause – while you walk!
Walking Can Help You Lower Your Blood Pressure And Strengthen Your Heart
Many people, particularly those of us over fifty, are at greater risk for stroke and heart disease because we are overweight, unhealthy, we have a hard time exercising due to limited mobility, or other various reasons.
Getting out and walking helps on several different levels. The act of walking itself is very relaxing and will lower your blood pressure soon after the walk. Immersing yourself in nature while you walk heightens the mood-boosting benefits.
But the heart benefits don’t stop there.
Regular exercise, including walking, will strengthen your heart.
Remember your heart is a muscle and going for a brisk walk works out more than your leg muscles. As you work out your heart, it gets stronger and better at pumping blood through your body.
And as you strengthen and build your muscles, you are likely to lose excess body fat. That’s good news for your blood pressure long-term.
NOTE: It is important that you consult your health care provider before starting any new exercise program, including walking, to design a plan that works best for you as an individual.
Are you ready to begin a daily walking habit?
Start where you’re at. Just put on your shoes, stretch for a minute or two, and head out.
Of course, you’ll need a good pair of comfortable walking shoes.
Other items that may assist you include:
- water bottle
- sun-protective hat
- pedometer, FitBit, or a phone app that monitors steps or distance
- heart monitor, if that is a concern for you
- walking poles, if you need an assist with your balance
- hand weights, when you are ready to boost your workout to the next level
- exercise habit tracker, to monitor your progress (you can get one free below)
If you have been very inactive and all you can do is walk for five to ten minutes, start there. It’s a lot more exercise than you’ve been getting, and everyone has to start somewhere. Stick with it for a week and then see if you can up your time to 15 minutes.
If you can comfortably walk for 30 minutes, start there. Pick up the pace, walk briskly and after a week or two, try to go for 45-minute walks.
Feel free to break up your walking workout into several shorter sessions interspersed throughout your day if that’s what works best for you.
- Walking: The Perfect Exercise for Midlife Women
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Final Thoughts on The Benefits of Walking Every Day for Women Over Fifty
Healthy diet, regular exercise, and losing weight are some of the most effective ways to keep yourself healthy as you age. Walking is one of the easiest, most convenient, and more effective exercises around.
Add to that the fact that walking helps you de-stress and it’s no wonder that walking regularly has such beneficial effects on your health.
Put on your shoes and go!