You’ll be amazed at the benefits from this quick and easy routine.
From helping you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases—going for regular walks is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health, says Melina B. Jampolis, MD, author of the new book The Doctor on Demand Diet. “Walking is the number one exercise I recommend to most of my patients because it is very easy to do, requires nothing but a pair of tennis shoes, and has tremendous mental and physical benefits,” she says.
Here’s what you can expect when you start walking for just 30 minutes every day, most days of the week.
1. Your mood will improve.
You know how sometimes it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark chocolate to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, going for a walk is a zero-calorie strategy with the same benefits, says Jampolis. “Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility,” she says. What’s more, when you make your walks social—you stride with, say, your partner, a neighbour, or a good friend—that interaction helps you feel connected, says Jampolis, which boosts mood.
2. Your creative juices will start flowing.
Whether you’re feeling stuck at work or you’ve been searching for a solution to a tricky problem, research shows it’s a good idea to get moving: According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. “Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters,” says Jampolis.
3. Your jeans will get a little looser.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Jampolis. “As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn’t moving much,” she says. “That’s because regular walking can help improve your body’s response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat.” Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. “Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older,” says Iasevoli.
4. You’ll slash your risk of chronic disease.
The statistics are impressive: The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes. Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%. One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in the New England Journal of Medicinein 2002, found that those who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines (30 or more minutes of moderate activity on 5 or more days per week) had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly.
5. You’ll keep your legs looking great.
As we age, our risk of unsightly varicose veins increases—it’s just not fair. However, walking is a proven way to prevent those unsightly lines from developing, says Luis Navarro, MD, founder, and director of The Vein Treatment Center in New York City. “The venous system includes a circulatory section known as ‘the second heart,’ which is formed by muscles, veins, and valves located in our calf and foot,” he explains. “This system works to push blood back up to the heart and lungs—and walking strengthens this secondary circulatory system by strengthening and preserving leg muscle, which boosts healthy blood flow.” If you already suffer from varicose veins, daily walking can help ease related swelling and restlessness in your legs, says Navarro. “Also, if you are genetically predisposed to have varicose and/or spider veins, walking daily can help delay the onset.”
6. You’ll start to get more “regular.”
If you currently praise coffee for keeping your digestive system going strong, get ready to start thanking your morning walk instead. That’s because a regular walking routine can greatly improve gastric mobility, says Tara Alaichamy, DPT, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “One of the very first things an abdominal surgery patient is required to do is to walk because it utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system,” she says.
7. Your other goals will start to seem more reachable.
When you become a regular walker, you will have established a regular routine—and when you have a routine, you are more likely to continue with the activity and take on new healthy behaviours. “I firmly believe that walking regularly can help you to accomplish other goals you set your mind to,” says Kim Evans, a personal trainer, and daily walker.
It’s important for each of us to take the time to take care of ourselves – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Walking 30 minutes a day is a great way to take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be a gruelling experience – here are some tips to enjoy your daily walks:
- Don’t Cling To the Gym: You don’t like the gym…no problem! Walk around your neighbourhood, walk to work, walk to the store, just walk!
- Walking Partner: Take a friend or family member with you – chances are, you will enjoy spending time together, and forget that you’re exercising.
- Listen to some Music: Listen to some music while you walk, something that motivates you if you’re walking in the morning, or something that helps you to de-stress if you’re walking in the evening. Music helps make any ‘chore’ more enjoyable.
- Audio Books: Don’t like listening to music while walking? Well, how about a great audio book? Catch up on all that ‘reading’ and self-improvement that you’ve been putting off – all while walking.
- Change It Up: Do you get bored easily… then change it up! Don’t cling to your treadmill – go walking in different areas. Go for a drive and find another location to walk each evening. Walk at the beach, go for a hike, walk at the track, then go walk at another beach, and another, and another! Take advantage of our amazing beaches in Cayman.
- Enjoy the Scenery: Finish up your evening beach walk by watching the sun set.