Walking For a Healthier Body and Mind


The speed of life continues its skyward climb with no end on the horizon. In a time-starved society that leaves decreasing opportunities in the day for physical activity, exercise is more important than ever. With obesity at an alarmingly high rate in North America, people must find the time to remain physically active in order to live their happiest and healthiest lives. But exercise doesn't necessarily need to involve a trip to the gym. An effective low-impact exercise is the simple of act of walking, and unlike going to a gym, walking is free.

When embarking on a new exercise regime, consult a physician first to learn how to optimize your program and how to reduce possible medical risks.

Physical Benefits of Walking

According to Hike Ontario, brisk walking for 30 minutes, four to seven days a week, provides many physical health benefits. Walking is a cardiovascular exercise that works out the heart and reduces your risk of coronary artery disease. Getting your blood pumping and your heart rate up will oxygenate your body and increase energy levels.

Going for regular walks increases muscle tone and bone density, which is important especially for people with osteoporosis. As the old saying goes, "Use it or lose it." Walking also strengthens the muscles in your body responsible for keeping balance and it reduces the risk of diabetes by lowering blood sugar and body fat levels.

As people start to lose weight and improve their fitness level with regular physical activity, they find exercise increasingly easy to do - a snowballing cycle that leads to even greater levels of healthiness and happiness.

Mental Benefits of Walking

People who are taking active steps to improve their lives are often happier because they feel more in control of their destinies. Even beyond that, walking has a number of positive benefits for the mind.

Regular exercise has been shown to oxygenate the brain and increase levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin that regulate mood. Physical activity like walking has been shown to decrease depression and help those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

People struggling with depression and SAD often have a more difficult time during the winter season when inhospitable weather keeps them from venturing outside. Going for a walk is still possible in the winter if you are dressed properly, and many shopping malls offer "walking clubs" that encourage people to stay active even during the cold season.

Walking regularly has also been shown to promote better sleep, which can go a long way towards increasing energy and improving mood.

Especially where nature trails are available, walking can help one appreciate the beauty of the natural world. Taking a hike through the forest and being attuned to the staggering variety of life on display, from the birds in the trees to the flowers in bloom, can be a truly meditative experience. When walking in the great outdoors, many people find a sense of connection to the natural word that makes the worries of the modern world disappear.

Walking can also offer a great opportunity to socialize. Taking a stroll with friends can be fun and therapeutic, and conversation is another one of life's pleasures that doesn't cost a thing. Scheduling regular walks with friends or joining walking clubs can be wonderful ways to increase one's sense of community.

Exercise doesn't need to involve stressful trips to the gym. Try walking on a regular basis. You'll be surprised what you'll find just down the road.

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