Our friends at 99 Walks know that something magical happens when you take a walk. Your burdens get lighter. Your mind is clearer. Your breath becomes deeper, and your body, well, just feels better. Here are 12 of the benefits you might experience through the magic of walking.
- Walking lifts your spirits and reduces stress. Exercise reduces levels of the stress-hormone cortisol and increases the trifecta of happy hormones: endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. A walk is a powerful, all-natural mood booster!
- Walking reduces your blood pressure. Regular and consistent exercise, like walking, is a proven way to reduce high blood pressure. It improves blood flow and increases available oxygen to your working muscles, making it easier on your heart to pump blood through your body.
- Walking boosts your immune system. Walking can help boost your immune system and improve your ability to fend off viruses and bacteria. One recent study found that people who walk at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, have 43 percent fewer sick days than those who do not.
- Walking is good for your heart. People who maintain at least a moderate level of fitness are more likely to ward off coronary heart disease, even if you have a family history, or suffer from high blood pressure or obesity.
- Walking can help fight cancer. A Harvard study showed women who walked just 1 to 3 hours per week reduced their risk of death from breast and uterine cancers by 19%, and men with prostate cancer were 57% less likely to see their disease progress if they walked at least 3 hours a week.
- Walking helps your brain. Walking has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, the section of the brain related to memory, helping seniors to maintain their memory and have less cognitive decline. In fact, research shows that regular walking results in a 50% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Walking helps you lose weight. Walking is a great way to burn calories, but it can also help offset genetic tendencies towards obesity. According to a Harvard study, one hour of walking a day can reduce these influences by half.
- Walking increases your energy. Ever notice that you end a walk with more energy than when you started? Research shows that people who regularly complain of fatigue can increase their energy levels by 20 percent just by engaging in regular, low intensity exercise.
- Walking helps you sleep better. Walking outdoors, especially in the morning, can help your body get in tune with your natural daily rhythms. And just 30 minutes can improve the quality of that night’s sleep.
- Walking helps you focus. The act of your feet hitting the ground stimulates blood flow, sending oxygen to your brain, and giving you the ability to focus better and improving your cognitive function.
- Walking helps with creativity. One recent study showed that a short walk can increase your creativity by up to 60% and that boost in creativity can last for several hours following that walk.
- Walking strengthens communication and connection. Whether shoulder-to-shoulder or via phone, taking a walk with a loved one is not only meditative, but the increased oxygen and blood flow helps you communicate more clearly.
No matter your age, location or fitness level, everyone can realize the benefits of a regular walking practice. Experience the magic by walking your way to better health with 99 Walks, a fun, app-based walking challenge. You’ll set a personal walking goal for the month then work toward it alongside thousands of other women, and you’ll earn a gorgeous, inspirational bracelet every month you crush your walking goal. Use code SHAPA to claim your free month at www.99walks.fit.