By Jennifer Ewen
Walking tends to be one of the most underrated forms of exercise. While it doesn’t get you huffing and sweating, it is an excellent form of low-impact exercise that has benefits that positively affect your body and your mind.
Going on thirty-minute walks almost every day helps lower your blood pressure and improves your cardiovascular system, which in turn helps prevent heart disease. Walking fast enough to increase your heart rate can provide long-term benefits without pushing you to exhaustion. If you don’t want to walk very fast, increasing your distance instead of speed provides the same heart benefits. Walking after a meal will also help stabilize your blood sugar, which helps you feel fuller longer and reduces your risk for type II diabetes.
As with any other form of exercise, walking boosts your immune system, which is especially important in the winter when colds and viruses run rampant. Walking can even help prevent certain types of cancer: studies have shown walking can reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by 14%. Walking has even been shown to help cancer patients live longer.
Walking for just ten minutes can improve your mood for the rest of the day. Since it improves your mood, walking can help alleviate stress and improve how you deal with day-to-day problems that arise at work or at home. Consider taking a walk on your lunch break, walking before going to work in the morning, or walking after dinner - or walk at all those times during the day!
It’s especially hard to walk in the winter with frigid temperatures and daylight that only lasts until late afternoon - either bundle up and go anyways, walk at a mall (Mall of America has “Mayo Clinic Mile” signs that guide you on walks), or use the treadmill. Beyond all the benefits already discussed, walking is a great part of a healthy lifestyle that can help you maintain or lose weight. Even if you think you don’t have time to exercise, try to fit in a half-hour walk (or two fifteen minute walks) every day to get all these benefits from one of the easiest forms of exercise!