10 amazing effects of daily walks on your body

10 amazing effects of daily walks on your body

A relaxing 30-minute walk every day is a great way to improve your overall health and stay fit. Physical fitness is not exclusively achieved by strenuous activities such as weight-lifting and back-splitting routines. You don’t even have to jog; walking for at least 15 minutes a day can progressively improve your flexibility, cardiovascular muscles, brain function, reduce the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis, and burn calories.

Generally, walking is an easy, efficient, and relaxing way of taking care of your overall health and wellbeing. Here are 10 amazing effects of daily walks on your body: [1]

1.  Improves digestion and reduced risk of colon cancer

A brisk walk before a meal enhances your body’s metabolism and speeds up the rate at which the food is broken down to prevent constipation. Walking after a meal will increase the efficiency of the stomach’s muscles when breaking down food. A 2010 study compared the physical activity of over 150,000 men and women between 1882 and 1997. [2] They analyzed the rate of colon cancer diagnoses and deaths from 1998–2006. It was discovered that those who had exercised daily for at least 10 years had lower risks of colon cancer and better physical and mental functions.

2. Strengthens joints, bones, and muscles

Bones and muscles are living tissue in the body. During a steadily-paced movement, they tug and push against each other, which improves growth and strength through reparation. [3] Walking also improves bone density, which in turn reduces the risk of fractures and bone brittleness. Walking daily is a great self-care routine for managing arthritis. [4] It causes the body’s weight and pressure to shift to your muscles and away from your joints, which will improve flexibility and reduce inflammation.

3. Improves heart health

Research has shown that walking daily can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and regulate blood pressure. [5] Walking makes your blood circulate better and improves the function of the cardiovascular muscles. A stronger heart will pump more blood with each heartbeat, reducing an elevated heart rate.

4. Improves pancreatic health and lowers risk of diabetes

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent type two diabetes. Research has shown that exercise may help recharge the pancreas and improve its insulin-secretion function. Walking may actually be more effective in diabetes prevention than running. A study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program between 2009 and 2013 reported that people who walked daily showed improved glucose tolerance than those who ran in the first six months. [6]

5.   Improves brain function

A 2017 study conducted at the New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) reported that a walk sends shock waves to the brain through the arteries that help increase blood supply to the brain. [7] Nutrients and oxygen necessary for brain health are brought in by the blood and metabolic waste and toxins are also removed. Walking may also help lower the risk of degenerative brain diseases. A 26-week study published in the journal PLOS One reports that walking helped people who were diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s to think clearly and remember better, responding more positively to cognitive tests. [8]

6. Improves eyesight and may lower the risk of eye diseases

This may sound like a long stretch, but research has shown that a brisk walk can significantly improve your eye health. [9] The study tested 18 volunteers who walked regularly and discovered an improved function and neuron-boost in the brain’s visual cortex, the part of the cerebral cortex that processes visual information. This effect was not found in people who engaged in more vigorous activities. 

7. Improves mental health

Studies have shown that walking regularly can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. [10] Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a prevalent condition with low remission rates. Lifestyle changes and exercise are some of the best practices to manage the condition. Walking stimulates the secretion of endorphins, one of the four primary ‘happy’ hormones that inhibit the action of stress hormones and alleviate mild depression. Walking in the open, fresh air at quiet hours is a relaxing therapy for improving mental health and managing anxiety.

8. Increases lung capacity

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, regular 30-minute walks help strengthen the lungs and increase their capacity. [11] This aids breathing and increases oxygen supply to the blood, while removing more toxins and metabolic waste. Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise that helps maintain a strong immune system that protects the body from certain bacteria that cause lung diseases. 

9. Relieves back pain 

While running and other vigorous forms of exercise may aggravate back pain and result in vertebral slip discs, a low-impact exercise like walking can help improve flexibility and reduce the incidence of back pain. A 2004 study published in the Spine Journal reports that a 30-minute walk can help to reduce the intensity of back pain by 10 to 50 percent. [12]

10. Maintains a healthy weight

Walking is an important strategy in weight control because it helps burn calories and reduce excess fat. You can burn 90–200 calories during a 30-minute walk (depending on your body size). [13] When combined with intermittent fasting and diet changes, daily walking may be an efficient workout routine for significant weight loss.  

References

  1. What Are the Benefits of Walking?“, Healthline. November 2018.
  2. Potential benefits and hazards of physical activity and exercise on the gastrointestinal tract,” NCBI. March 2011.
  3. How does physical activity help build healthy bones?“, NIH. December 2016.
  4. Walking,” Arthritis Foundation.
  5. Walking,” Heart.org. June 2018.
  6. Effects of exercise training alone vs a combined exercise and nutritional lifestyle intervention on glucose homeostasis in prediabetic individuals: a randomized controlled trial,” Springer. July 2016.
  7. How walking benefits the brain,” Science Daily. April 2017.
  8. Aerobic exercise for Alzheimer’s disease: A randomized controlled pilot trial,” PLOS One. February 2017.
  9. Exercise is GOOD for eyesight: Going for a brisk walk could improve your vision,” Express UK. February 2017.
  10. Moderate exercise improves depression parameters in treatment-resistant patients with major depressive disorder,” Science Direct. October 2016.
  11. A Breath of Fresh Air: Walking Outdoors for Your Lung Health,” Lung Institute. May 2016.
  12. Walking more than 90minutes/week was associated with a lower risk of self-reported low back pain in persons over 50years of age: a cross-sectional study using the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys,” Spine Journal. May 2019.
  13. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights,” Health Harvard. August 2018.
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