For many people, whenever they are advised to exercise, their minds immediately bring up images of gym bills, pain, being sweaty, and overly muscular but that’s not necessarily true. You can simply walk. Yes, walk. Today, Face2FaceAfrica will share with you why even though walking is a very gentle, low impact form of exercise that is oh so good for your body.
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Health Benefits of Walking
- Walking helps with weight loss. This is a very obvious benefit that many people have ignored in their weight loss journeys. Stuart Amory, a personal trainer, says that if you’re trying to lose weight, then you need to burn about 600 more calories a day than you’re eating and putting one foot in front of the other is one of the simplest ways to do that. He also goes ahead to break it down into numbers – a person weighing 60kg burns 75 calories simply by strolling at 2mph for 30 minutes. Increase that to 3mph and they’ll burn 99 calories. Speed it up to a fast walk (4mph) and that’s 150 calories!
- Walking is good for your heart. Regular walking has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. By walking, you burn off your body concentration of LDL (bad) cholesterol, enabling the apparent increase in levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which keeps your blood pressure in check. Studies by the Stroke Association have also shown that walking briskly for up to 30 minutes a day can help to prevent and control the high blood pressure that can cause strokes.
- Walking increases your vitamin D store. If you’re walking outside, especially in early morning daylight, you’ll be boosting your body’s stores of vitamin D, which is a very essential nutrient for bone health, immunity, and the regulation of our body’s internal processes. And since Vitamin D is pretty difficult to get from food, it is essential to get it from other sources like sunlight.
- Walking boosts your energy. I know this must seem like a contradiction, but forget your energy drinks, because a brisk walk might just be all you need. Walking has been found to be one of the best natural energizers around as it helps to increase blood circulation and oxygen supply to each and every part of your body, making you feel more alive and alert. It also helps to loosen up stiff joints and ease muscle tension so you feel less sluggish and more energetic.
- Walking reduces disease risk. Studies have shown that inculcating a walking habit in your daily routine can slash your risk of getting diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and breast cancer by up to 60 percent.
- Walking gives you a chance to think. When we walk, we naturally we go in to thinking mode, and because walking is not difficult or taxing, we can direct our cognitive function and intellect to more cerebral matters. While we walk, we can wonder about something we’ve just seen, work through problems, come up with ideas, replay conversations, ruminate, and even discover solutions – maybe solutions to world problems, ha!
After all is said and done, I know personally that committing to walking takes quite a bit (a lot, you say? :D) of motivation and discipline. That’s why in addition to sharing the benefits of walking, here a few tips to help give you that push:
– Start simple. Set simple goals, such as, “I’ll take a 10-minute walk every morning before work.” When this goal becomes a habit, set a new one, “I’ll walk for 20 minutes every morning before work.” When this becomes a habit too, set a new one, and before you know it, you’ll be reaching for goals you once thought were impossible.
– Make it enjoyable. To be fair, to get any satisfaction from whatever we do in life, we have to enjoy it. Going on walks is no different. Walk with your music player and listen to music (but please for safety reasons, keep it at volumes that enable you to hear what’s going on in your surroundings. If possible, plug in only one ear). If you don’t enjoy walking alone, ask a friend or neighbor to join you. If you prefer group activities, join one or form a health club.
– Vary your routine. They say variety is the spice of life. Spice up your walks by taking different routes and see new sceneries once in a while. However, if you’re walking alone, make sure you tell someone which route you’re taking just in case of an emergency.
– Don’t beat yourself up. Even when you miss your walks. Don’t blame yourself and give up; instead, remind yourself of your goals and reasons for walking and how good you felt when you met those targets in the past and then get back on track.
You see, exercising doesn’t need to be hard and complicated. Wouldn’t you rather walk your way to a healthier you? Take that first step today with no excuses or procrastination. Stay healthy, folks!
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