You may not think of walking as much more than a way to get from point A to B. As humans, it is our primary method of movement, but much less involved and less enjoyable than other activities we routinely engage in, so it’s not hard to overlook its importance beyond the immediacy of transportation. However, walking, just like any movement, is a form of exercise, and because it is something so simple, we should take advantage of it more often. Walking, even slowly, or for short periods of time offers various benefits that become more important as we age.
A French study revealed that waking was significantly beneficial for adults over 65. This in-depth 12-year study demonstrated that even 15 minutes of walking daily was enough to reduce the rate of mortality by nearly 25%. This alone is a great benefit. Needless to say, this benefit grew dramatically for those who were regularly more active for longer periods of time. This information reaffirms the knowledge that regular exercise is important for health, more important than medicines and other treatments. At a minimum, adults should generally work to get in 150 minutes of at least moderate exercise every week.
As mentioned earlier, people take walking for granted because it is simple and necessary (for transportation). They are not at all aware of the benefits that come with walking, and therefore in today’s fast-paced world, miss out on any walking that isn’t absolutely necessary. However, walking, despite popular opinion, qualifies as aerobic exercise, which means that it will stimulate the respiratory rate, as well as that of the heart, in order to accommodate the allocation of additional oxygen to muscle tissue. You might expect that it takes vigorous exercise to make this happen, but it doesn’t. Any pace works.
Still, if you would like to get the most out of your workouts, or stimulate aerobic benefits further, you will have to move faster, and longer. If you increase your pace, extend the duration of your workout, walk (or run) across more difficult terrain, such as a sandy or rocky path, or uphill, you can increase the aerobic benefit that you gain. This, in turn, means that you’ll need more nutrients to accommodate your efforts. Fat is burned to produce energy, and this is given to the muscles, along with the building blocks to make them stronger and more effective.
A stronger, healthier body is, understandably, less prone to illness than one that is weaker. A habit of regular exercise makes the body stronger at every level because it must evolve to meet the challenges of the exercise. On the contrary, a body that is not challenged due to leading a sedentary lifestyle may malfunction due to ‘sedentary death syndrome.’ Essentially, you can think of it as a catalyst for a number of other chronic illnesses and diseases to wreak havoc on the body, therefore leading millions of sedentary seniors to a premature death.
Even the smallest increase in time spent walking can have positive effects. In fact, in 2016, a study was conducted on obese children. A mere 45 minutes of daily walking, five times a week, was enough to make a difference in their lung capacity, increasing it in six weeks. When it comes to adults and maintaining regular workouts, the use of interval training (beyond high-impact aerobic exercise, can boost health and fitness. It’s as simple as alternating one’s walking pace between a faster pace and a slower pace, and ultimately it yields better results than moving at one constant rate.
Nature lovers will be pleased to know that walking outdoors can have a positive effect on one’s mental health; believe it or not, physical exercise does have an effect on the brain, memory, and it’s cognitive powers. This is because a nature walk has the added advantage of being able to prevent the stress brought on by electronics, ultimately leading to less depression, and therefore, and overall higher mood. But that’s not all that nature has to offer. In fact, if you get your outdoor exercise in during the daytime, the sun’s rays can fortify your body with Vitamin D.