As a busy professional, you may not have much time for yourself, which means less opportunity to indulge in activities that might boost your health. In light of this, it’s important to understand the relationship between your health and fitness levels, and how walking can play a part in increasing your activity levels—which in turn, could result in weight loss benefits.
The benefits of regular exercise for weight loss are well established. Doing some research into the subject, you’ll discover that it’s not just about burning calories and reducing inches. There’s a strong correlation between getting enough exercise and feeling better overall. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who get more than 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week face a 28% lower risk of obesity-related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
There are numerous ways to get exercise, from taking up a sport to going for a run or doing some gardening. While these are all fantastic options, especially if you enjoy them, they might not be suitable for everyone. If you’d like to lose weight, but don’t enjoy spending your time in the gym, then walking is a great alternative. It’s accessible to everyone, and it doesn’t require any special equipment.
Does Walking Help Lose Weight?
Walking is a great way to lose weight. One 2017 study published in the scientific journal Obesity looked at the relationship between brisk walking and weight loss in obese adults. The study population consisted of 107 overweight or obese men and women who were all asked to walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for 16 weeks. At the end of the day, those who walked the most lost the most weight. Thanks to walking, they had lost an average of 7.7 kg (16.8 pounds) more than their counterparts who were assigned to the control group.
Walking’s impact on weight loss in this study is comparable to that of the popular diet pill, Xenical. However, while Xenical reduces the size of your stomach, walking helps to shrink your hips and thighs. When you have a smaller waistline, the rest of your body tends to follow. Walking is a fantastic option for those who want to shed extra pounds, especially since it’s so easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Health Benefits Of Walking
Walking is a great way to get some exercise, and it has numerous health benefits. Here are just a few of them.
One of the more recent studies to examine the effect of walking on mental health found that even a short walk can reduce depression. In the study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, researchers from Newcastle University in England compared the effects of a 16-minute walk with those of a control activity (potentially something like shopping, reading, or going for a bike ride) on participants’ moods. They discovered that people who walked for 16 minutes were less likely to experience depressive symptoms—like feeling down or sad—than those who engaged in the control activity. The researchers say this might be because walking promotes social interaction, which can give people a feeling of contentment and reduces their likelihood of experiencing depression.
Improves Digestive Health
Did you know that walking can improve your digestive health? The act of walking stimulates the flow of saliva in your mouth, which in turn, assists in the digestion of your food. While there’s no evidence that suggests eating food whilst walking will enhance this benefit, it’s always nice to know that your body is doing something useful during your time on the feet. Many people experience digestive problems, which can lead to weight gain. By regularly walking, you stand a chance of improving your digestive health, and thereby, shedding some extra pounds.
Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
Eating a nutritious meal and getting enough sleep each night can help to prevent type 2 diabetes. Studies have also indicated that getting some exercise can help to prevent type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes UK group advises: “Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week—such as walking, cycling, or swimming—can help to prevent type 2 diabetes.” The American Diabetes Association (ADA) shares a similar opinion: “Walking is an easy way for people with diabetes to get some exercise, and it’s a great way to improve their overall health.” Regular exercise, they say, can help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, protect against Alzheimer’s disease, and even improve mood. These are all vital for those who have diabetes, and it’s worth noting that walking is one of the safest activities one can do if they have this disease.
Increases Bone Strength
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D can help to build strong bones. To ensure you get these nutrients you need, eat dairy products such as milk and cheese, along with vegetables, including dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin D is found in few foods, but it is plentiful in the sun’s natural rays. The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) states: “Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, helps to maintain strong bones. It also helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.” Osteoporosis, which is often caused by a lack of calcium in the diet, is a significant issue. One in four women and one in ten men will develop the disease after menopause. According to the NOS, osteoporosis is often misdiagnosed, due to the lack of a reliable test for detecting it. Walking can help to raise calcium levels in the blood, making it more detectable. This, in turn, can lead to effective treatment and prevention of the disease.
Helps To Manage Stress
This one may not be a direct health advantage, but it’s still worth mentioning; walking can help to reduce stress. We all have days when our stress levels are through the roof, and it’s not always easy to know what’s the source of our tension. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of our mental and physical discomfort. Even when we do know the source of our frustration, it can still be hard to put into practice relaxation techniques that will reduce our stress. Regular exercise, such as walking, has been shown to increase levels of neurochemical dopamine in the brain. This chemical is associated with pleasure, motivation, and focus, which makes it ideal for reducing stress and anxiety.
Helps To Maintain A Healthy Weight
Did you know that walking can help to maintain a healthy weight? According to the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS), “Walking is an easy way for people with diabetes to get some exercise, and it’s a great way to improve their overall health.” The NOS goes on to say: “Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, helps to maintain strong bones. It also helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.” To enjoy these benefits, make sure you get some physical activity each week. According to the NOS, the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is by getting plenty of calcium, sufficient vitamin D, and protein, along with some vegetables and fruits. These are all nutrients that you can get from food, so there’s no need to take supplements. Just make sure that you’re getting the nutrients you need from the food that you eat.
More Activity Means More OXYGEN
Did you know that walking helps to improve oxygenation of the blood? During your walk, your body is exercising, which means it is releasing more oxygen into the blood. The result is that you are less likely to suffer from poor oxygenation and associated problems, such as fatigue and diminished cognitive function. According to the Mayo Clinic, inadequate oxygenation of the blood can have serious consequences, such as heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to ensure that your oxygen levels are where they need to be: simply take more walks! The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that the average person walks for 30 minutes several times a day, or does some form of vigorous activity for five days a week. Since walking is such a simple and accessible way to get moving, it would be a shame to not take advantage of this health advantage.
Walking is a fantastic way to lose weight. It’s accessible to everyone, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. Simply put, it’s the easiest way to get some exercise, and it can have numerous health advantages. If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, then consider incorporating more walks into your routine.