The best things in life are free – it’s a cliché but so true when it comes to walking. Yes, walking is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise, yet it’s virtually free. You don’t need any special equipment and you pay no fees for the exercise. Yet walking delivers a host of benefits, particularly when you walk in green spaces. Now more then ever with covid and social distancing walking popularity has really flourished. Below are some benefits to think about while out on your next walk!
- Boosts your immune function
A brisk daily walk can boost your immune system. According to a study by David Nieman and colleagues, a daily 30-minute brisk walk increases the circulation of white blood cells and other immune system fighters. Niemen, a professor of public health at Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA, recommends moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for boosting immunity.
- Eases joint pain
You may think that painful joints need rest. On the contrary, walking does reduce arthritis-related pain. Moreover, walking five to six miles a week could even protect you from getting arthritis in the first place. Walking strengthens the muscles that support the knee and hip joints.
In March 2019, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine published results from a study that involved 1,500 older adults with symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers found that walking briskly for just an hour a week allowed the older adults to perform their daily tasks comfortably.
- Cuts the risk of breast cancer
Being physically active diminishes the risk of breast cancer. According to the Harvard Medical School, an American Cancer Society study compared two groups of women. The first group habitually walked for seven or more hours a week while the second walked for three or fewer hours. The study concluded that the first group had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than the second. Besides, it didn’t matter whether the women were overweight or on hormone therapy.
- Uplifts your mood
When faced with a stressful situation you may want to take a walk to “clear your head.” Well, there is evidence to suggest that this works. Analysis of several scientific studies concluded that physical activity could help prevent depression and uplift mood. Moreover, the activity does not have to be intense. It includes low-level walking of fewer than 150 minutes per week.
The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Toronto, Canada conducted the analysis. The results were published in November 2013.
- Reduces stress
Walking has also been found to decrease the production of stress hormones. A study conducted in April 2018 at the Medical University of Graz (Austria) concluded that walking, in combination with rest and bath therapy, reduced stress.
Group nature walks * keeping 6 feet apart
The benefits of walking seem especially pronounced when people walk in green areas. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan concluded that taking group nature walks leads to decreased depression. Participants also recorded improved well-being and saw themselves as less stressed. Most encouraging, the beneficial mood changes seemed strongest among recently traumatized people. The people had borne the loss of a loved one, serious illness, and divorce.
So, put your best foot forward and reap physical, psychological, and mental benefits. Enhance those benefits by walking in green, leafy surroundings, preferably in the company of others for encouragement. The NY Capital Region has so many great rural areas to take a walk or even the sidewalk will do in a more suburban area. And for all those dog owners out there, it’s a perfect excuse to walk Fido, he/she will thank you and you’ll both reap the benefits. Stop making excuses, tie up those sneakers and just walk!