People walk because it’s easy to do. Not only is it easy, but it doesn’t cost a cent to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Plus, this article will show you how walking improves health. Also, you gain the added bonus of experiencing new sights – depending on the area where you walk.
It’s also relaxing, has the ability to relieve stress and can give you a deep sense of peace that lasts long after the walk is finished. But besides all of the fun things you can see and the stress relief you get, walking has a lot of health benefits that anyone can enjoy.
Why Walking Is So Important
Even if you walk just to get out of the house, you’re going to reap some rewards for your body from this simple movement. By doing something that’s easy and fun, you reward your body with a healthier, longer life.
Many health related problems are directly related to a lack of movement. The more sedentary a person is, the higher the risk they have of experiencing a serious health issue – and a shorter lifespan.
Walking is one of the easiest ways that you can prevent health problems. This simple, yet effective means of exercise is a great way to lose weight, build your muscles, add bone strength and relieve overall body tension.
Even if you don’t have a family history of strokes, you’ll want to do what you can to keep this health emergency at bay. Strokes are not only debilitating, but they can also lead to death.
In fact, out of all the possible causes of health related fatalities, strokes are third on the list. Yet, more than half of all strokes are preventable. A stroke happens when the flow of blood to the brain is impeded.
There are two common kinds of stroke. One is a hemorrhagic stroke and the other is an Ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes are more likely to happen than a hemorrhagic one.
When plaque builds up in an artery, this type of stroke occurs. This plaque narrows the arteries and though this can happen as you age, you can bring on a stroke by engaging in some of the known risk behaviors.
These risk behaviors include smoking and the overuse of alcoholic beverages. But the risks are also elevated when you’re overweight, when you have cholesterol numbers that are too high or when you have high blood pressure.
People who have diabetes are at greater risk than people who don’t have the disease. But also on the list of risky behaviors is living a sedentary lifestyle. Even if you absolutely hate exercising, you want to do something that cuts your risk of having a stroke.
Benefits Of A Walking Program
Most people choose walking because it doesn’t seem like it’s a form of exercise. There are a lot of ways that you can make walking something that you look forward to doing.
You can start at any age and the earlier that you start a walking program, the better your health can be. By the time you reach your mid 50s, your chance of having a stroke increases – and if you add other risky behaviors, that increase is even greater.
The aftermath of a stroke leaves behind brain cells that can be irreparably damaged. You can experience cognitive problems. This means that your memory and ability to pay attention and communicate can be affected.
You can develop aphasia, dysarthria or dyspraxia. All of these involve trouble speaking and trouble understanding speech. You may lose the ability to write and to understand what others have written.
Many people who experience a stroke can picture the words and how they want to communicate after a stroke – but the ability to make that known can be lost. Fifty percent of all stroke victims deal with depression after the event as they struggle to come to terms with the sense of what was altered or forever lost.
Some of these people struggle with personality changes or angry outbursts. Physically, there can also be a loss of limb strength or even complete use. Difficulty walking is common, as is a partial or complete loss of independence.
Incontinence is common as are eyesight problems – such as a limited ability to move the eyes or nystagmus. While you can’t control the factors that you were born with that can cause health problems that lead to strokes, you can lower your odds of having one of these life-altering health issues.
Is Walking Worth It?
With a regular walking program, you can decrease your risk of a stroke significantly over those who don’t walk. Besides cutting down on your odds of having a stroke, you can improve your heart health.
In fact, your heart stands to gain quite a lot of benefits when you walk. Your heart is an organ that has a lot of responsibilities to all of the other parts of your body. It’s tasked with making sure that your organs get the blood and the oxygen that they need to stay in good shape.
So if your heart suffers, so do all of the other organs in your body. Not only can the organs in your body experience trouble if your heart’s not in good shape, but your muscles and joints can, too.
This is one of the reasons that you can end up with swelling around the ankles. If your heart isn’t working properly, it causes fluid to accumulate. While the heart is an organ, it’s muscular in nature, which means that movement such as walking strengthens the heart.
It enables it to do its job better and with less effort. Coronary diseases can be reduced or avoided in many cases when you walk regularly. You can lower your risk of developing coronary disease even if you have a family history filled with risk factors.
By engaging in a regular walking program, you can bring down your risk level to the point where it’s lower than that of someone who doesn’t have any coronary disease factors at all.
If you walk briskly, you can give your heart the same health benefits that you would gain if you ran on a regular basis. Medical studies presented by the American Heart Association showed that some of the benefits you gain include lower cholesterol and lower high blood pressure numbers.
You’ll also have better blood flow. Your heart will have an easier time circulating the blood that your body needs to ensure proper organ function. Your organs will also gain better oxygen levels when the heart gets the exercise it needs.
Your blood pressure numbers can be improved with walking. Having high blood pressure is a risky health condition because there are often no symptoms until the pressure has been high for years.
This elevation can cause damage to your arteries. With an elevated blood pressure, your heart has to double its efforts to get the blood through your body. Untreated high blood pressure – or blood pressure that’s poorly controlled – can lead to your heart becoming enlarged.
Walking keeps your blood pressure lowered, which means that the pressure of the blood flowing to and from the heart isn’t as high. Regular walking can even lower your blood pressure to the point that you may be able to reduce or eliminate the amount of blood pressure medication you take.
Another heart benefit with walking is that you can also lessen your LDL cholesterol level, which is one of the main culprits in heart disease. You want to strive for this benefit because LDL cholesterol can narrow the arteries used to take blood to the heart.
This causes your body to not get the right amount of oxygen to the heart and you could end up having a heart attack. When you walk, not only can you lower the numbers on your LDL cholesterol level, but you can also raise your HDL level.
Does Walking Help Diabetes?
Pre-diabetes can be eliminated and diabetes sugar levels can be controlled with walking. According to the CDC, the number of people with diabetes stands at 29 million and growing.
More than 8 million people don’t even know they have the disease. Not knowing and having poor control of this disease can lead to a host of severe complications – including kidney failure, limb amputation and blindness.
Pre-diabetes cases once topped a shocking 86 million cases. With most people unaware that they have it, their odds are higher of developing diabetes. Of all of the causes of death, diabetes charts the list at number seven.
Yet, it’s a disease that can be avoided and can be well controlled so that it doesn’t lead to an early death. Though family history does play a role in whether or not someone will get this disease, you can lower your risk factor of getting it.
One of the ways that you can do this is through walking. Walking lowers the risk factor as well as turns back the odds of pre-diabetes swinging over into full-blown diabetes.
If you already do have diabetes, then walking can help lower higher blood sugar readings. You’ll also gain improvement in your blood circulation, which can help stave off blood flow complications often caused by the disease.
You gain more insulin receptors when you walk. These receptors are what the body uses to help facilitate the proper use of glucose so you end up with better sugar control.
By walking to help stave off or control diabetes, you help prevent complications to your kidneys, your heart, your eyes and your limbs. You lower your risk for stroke as well.
Does Walking Help Bone Density?
Your skeletal structure is strengthened when you walk. You want this strength to help you fight against fractures. Bone fractures are painful to deal with. They take several weeks to heal – and depending on the location of the fracture, they can interfere with your work or life activities.
When you walk, if you do it on a consistent basis, you can cut your risk of experiencing a bone fracture. It helps because of two reasons. First, because when you walk, you strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility. Secondly, you gain bone density.
Some people think of bones as a part of the body that doesn’t grow after a certain age. While that might be true when it comes to height, your bones are made up of living tissue.
This tissue needs exercise in order to remain strong and viable. New cells are formed, which help in the increase of density within the bones. This is especially helpful to older people who are at risk of hip fractures.
Having denser bones can stave off hip fractures. The more you walk, the better your bones will do when it comes to strength. Having stronger bones helps fight against getting a fracture in case you fall or get injured.
If you walk, even if it’s only short distances, you can prevent bone density loss. This lowers your risk of developing osteoporosis. Your bones and muscles aren’t the only recipients of good health when you walk.
Walking Helps Brain Function
Your brain gains from it as well. Your memory can be improved by walking. The hippocampus in the brain is positively affected and new brain cells are stimulated to grow.
As you age, your brain has some minor shrinkage. But walking helps prevent the shrinkage in the cortex that’s associated with memory. This improvement in the brain is a way that can also help prevent dementia.
Walking can also be a great way to stimulate your brain. By taking along an iPod Touch or other device, you can listen to audiobooks as you walk – learn a language and more.
The more active that you keep your body, the better it is for your brain’s function. The way that you feel can also be affected by your walking. Your mood can be lifted because endorphins are released when you walk.
These act as a natural mood stabilizer that can last all day, making you feel upbeat. Anxiety can be helped with a walking program and so can depression. Anger is another emotion that can affect your moods, yet can be improved with walking.
By walking when you’re struggling with something emotionally, you can gain a release from the inner turmoil. And you’ll be doing something healthy for your body while you’re helping your mood.
How Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Health
If you take a survey, you’ll discover that plenty of people want to have a long and healthy life. But many of these people are sabotaging that desire by being too sedentary.
The simple act of going for a walk a few times a week will add years to your life. You get these additional years because walking helps keep your organs healthy by preventing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and various kinds of heart diseases.
You’ll gain health benefits like stronger bones and better agility when you move. Studies have long shown that going for walks can help you get more restful sleep when you go to bed.
A walking program can prevent obesity or help you lose weight so that you’re no longer classified as obese. While obesity can be brought on by health conditions and some medications, one of the most well known causes is overeating followed by a lack of exercise.
Not exercising causes more obesity related complications and deaths than is caused by the use of tobacco products. The CDC statistics show that over 78 million people are obese.
Obesity can lead to health conditions that are preventable with weight loss and regular exercise. The reason behind not exercising varies, depending on who you ask.
It can be because of time limitations or not wanting to join a gym or not wanting to exercise alone. Yet, walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise. You can do it at home, at the office and even on vacation.
You can use exercise equipment or walk outdoors. The possibilities are virtually endless. And unlike fancy gym memberships that require a commitment and a monthly expense, walking doesn’t cost you anything – except maybe the cost of a good pair of walking shoes.
Walking is the easiest and most affordable method of improving your health, your longevity and your happiness. It’s something that you can start out slowly with and build up.
Even if you hate exercising, give walking a try. You might just discover that you really like the way that walking makes you feel on a daily basis and when you implement it for more than two weeks, you’ll really see a change in your life.