Walk your way to better health

Hippocrates said that “walking is man’s best friend”. Nietzsche claimed that “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”. Thomas Jefferson insisted that “walking is the best possible exercise”. Are these just meaningless musings, or were they really on to something? Let’s take a closer look.

Stimulate the circulatory system

Getting in motion has obvious advantages for getting the heart rate up and the blood pumping, but there are also reports that it helps lower cholesterol and control high blood pressure. That’s good news for heart health and stroke risk reduction, but try to make it a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes a day to achieve some real benefits.

Improve immunity

Want to help keep diseases like type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers at bay? Then take a walk. Experts say that pacing the pegs can have a positive impact on the risk of diabetes. It can also help prevent colon, breast and womb cancers.

Watching your weight

Walking may not be enough in itself to lose masses of weight, but keeping it regular and as vigorous as possible will certainly burn more calories than you may first think. Best of all, it’s so easy to do; no preparation or equipment required. Just put one foot after the other!

Defending against dementia

We all know the prevalence of dementia in our society, especially as we grow older. Studies show that there can be demonstrable reductions in dementia risk from regular activity such as walking.

Build up your bones

Walking obviously puts your body weight onto your lower limbs and in doing so it assists in preventing osteoporosis – a major issue for those of us getting on in years.

Better balance

The intricate workings of our brain that keep us balanced when we are in motion are stimulated and improved when we walk – particularly on uneven surfaces, such as hiking trails. Train your brain and it will help prevent falls as we get older.

Open your mind

Walking certainly doesn’t take much concentration to execute, which leaves our brains free to think, create and problem-solve. Maybe Nietzsche really was right!

Mobile meditation

Our western lifestyle doesn’t really embrace the practice of sitting still and meditating all that well, but walking provides a great opportunity to allow your mind time to tune out from the tumult and give it space for serenity.

Aiding arthritis

Any type of exercise is generally difficult for arthritis sufferers to bear, but walking can be a gentle alternative that can provide benefits to assist combating this condition.

Extra energy

Walking can help give you a lift in spirits and make you feel more alive, but it also helps you sleep more soundly. This, in turn can boost your energy levels and help you live life more fully.

Want more inspiration? Let your fingers do the walking here:

betterhealth.vic.gov.au
heartfoundation.org.au
dsr.nsw.gov.au
juststartwalking.com.au