It’s time to put down those digital devices, turn on some feel-good music and get active!
Now more than ever, we need to focus on optimizing our health amid the ongoing uncertainty surrounding coronavirus. The phrase "Walking is man's best medicine," spoken by Hippocrates over 2,500 years ago remains a timeless prescription for well-being and is even more timely today given current national affairs.
Walking is one of the healthiest activities you can enjoy while practicing social distancing and what better time to start than April 1st – National Walking Day! There is a reason why the American Heart Association sponsors this celebrated national event as the benefits are many:
Boost your immune system.
Physical activity can actually help your immune system ward off infection. Regular, moderate exercise, supports the immune system by promoting good circulation, allowing substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. And yes, brisk walking counts!
Combat your sweet tooth.
Recent research shows that walking may reduce cravings for sugar. A study from the University of Exeter, found that a 15-minute walk curbed chocolate cravings and reduced the amount of chocolate consumed by half during times of stress. Yes please!
Help out your joints.
Low-impact exercise increases blood flow to cartilage, which helps cartilage get the nutrients it needs to cushion and protect the ends of bones in your joints. Walking also helps to strengthen the muscles supporting your joints, which is beneficial for those combating arthritis-related pain.
Lift your mood
If you’re feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, exercise can help! Engaging in regular physical activity, like brisk walking, releases painkilling, stress-reducing endorphins helping to create sensations of pleasure and euphoria. Additionally, exercise helps stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which also play key roles in regulating mental wellbeing.
Whether you’re looking to solve a problem at work or struggling to write your next paper, walking supports creative ideation. A 2014 study from Stanford University found that walking can boost creative output by 60 percent. Creative benefits were found for both indoor and outdoor walks and lasted well after the walk itself.
Burn calories and boost weight loss.
Regular walking is one of the most effective low-impact ways to positively alter body composition. It helps stimulate your metabolism, burn calories and can even temporarily suppress appetite. To enhance weight-loss benefits, add in intervals, alternating between fast-paced and moderate-paced walking every other minute. Don’t forget to stretch, warm-up and cool-down for injury prevention!
It supports longevity.
Want to live longer? Go for a walk. Research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings observed that brisk walking could extend your life by several years. In fact, women who walked briskly over 4 mph, were observed to have a life-span boost of up to of 15 years and men up to 20 years, then those who walked at a slower pace.
The more you walk, the greater the benefits, so lace up those sneakers and celebrate National Walking Day with us, while honoring social distancing of course!