How many miles you should walk for optimal health
Walking is often lauded as a simple way to improve one's health, but the benefits of this humble activity extend far beyond the physical. In addition to providing a gentle form of exercise, walking also has the power to boost mental health and well-being. Indeed, research has shown that spending time in nature can lower stress levels, relieve anxiety, and promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. What's more, the rhythmic act of walking can help to clear the mind and allow for greater creativity. Walking has a host of benefits that make it ideal for those looking to improve their health. It is a low-impact activity that is easy on the joints, and it can be done virtually anywhere. Walking is also an excellent way to increase cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, and lower blood pressure. And the best part is that it's free! So how much walking should you be doing for optimal health? It is generally recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This means walking at a pace that makes your heart rate increase, but you are still able to carry on a conversation. According to the Mayo Clinic, this equates to about 30 minutes of walking five days per week.
The 10,000 steps approach
You may hear recommendations of 10,000 steps per day for optimum health. This number was created by a Japanese company as a marketing campaign to sell pedometers. However, it has become accepted as a general goal to strive for. For example, the American Heart Association includes 10,000 steps per day as one of their "Life's Simple 7" health goals. If you're just looking to stay healthy, the general rule of thumb is to aim for 10,000 steps per day. This equates to about 5 miles, and it's a realistic goal that will help you improve your fitness without putting too much strain on your body. Getting regular exercise by walking is a good starting point but how do we stick to it? Certified fitness and nutrition coach Rosemarie Mitchell states that "walking is an excellent whole-body exercise that can lower risk factors for many chronic diseases. Fitting it in as a part of your daily routine will guarantee that you meet the daily recommendation. For example, some of my clients have started walking groups at work and walk for 30 minutes at lunch and again after work. This is a great element to include if the goal is to boost social support and inclusivity in the workplace. Walking has a social aspect that makes it a perfect activity to do with friends and family. Setting aside 2-3 designated days to meet and walk with a group of friends or your spouse can add fun into your day and strengthen bonds between you and loved ones." You can always increase your mileage or pace as you become more fit. And remember, any activity is better than none at all. If you're looking for more motivation to get moving, consider these health benefits of walking:
Walking can help improve your cardiovascular health.
Walking offers impressive benefits for cardiovascular health. According to studies, regular walking can help to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, walking can help to improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of stroke. Walking can help strengthen your bones and muscles. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which means that it helps to build and maintain bone density. In addition, walking helps to tone muscles, improve balance and helps to stimulate the production of new bone cells, which can help to prevent osteoporosis. Walking is a great way to provide resistance training to your muscles as well.
Walking can help improve your balance and coordination.
Walking is often thought of as a relatively simple activity, but it actually requires a remarkable amount of coordination and balance. Every time we take a step, our body must adjust our center of gravity to keep us from falling over. This requires a complex interaction between our muscles, bones, and nervous system. And it's not just our legs that are involved; our arms and trunk also need to make small adjustments to maintain our balance. As we walk, our brain is constantly making tiny adjustments to keep us upright. This constant balancing act helps to improve our coordination and reaction time. In other words, walking is good for more than just your legs; it can also help to sharpen your mind.
Walking can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Walking burns calories, of course, but it also boosts your metabolism and helps to regulate your appetite. In one study, participants who walked for 30 minutes after eating felt fuller and ate less at their next meal than those who didn’t walk. Walking is also a low-impact form of exercise, which means that it is easy on your joints and muscles. This makes it an ideal form of exercise for people who are overweight or obese, as well as those who are recovering from an injury. So if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, ditch the car and hit the pavement instead. If you're hoping to lose weight or improve your cardiovascular fitness, you'll need to up your mileage. A good goal to strive for is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity walking most days of the week. And if you really want to see results, ramp up the intensity and shoot for 60 minutes a day.
Walking can help improve your mental health and mood.
If you've been feeling down in the dumps, it might be time to take a walk. That's right, a simple stroll can have a significant impact on your mental health and mood. Walking has been shown to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it can also improve self-esteem and body image. In addition, walking can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. And there's no need to go for a long hike – even a short walk around the block can make a difference. So next time you're feeling blue, don't forget that a little fresh air and exercise can go a long way.
Walking can increase your energy levels and help you sleep better.
We all know that feeling of trudging through the day, our energy levels depleted and our eyelids drooping. And while there are many things that can contribute to fatigue, one often overlooked culprit is a sedentary lifestyle. Simply put, our bodies were designed to move, and when we don't get enough exercise, we can end up feeling tired and run down. Walking is a great way to get your body moving and increase your energy levels. Just a few minutes of walking can help to improve circulation and increase oxygen levels in the blood. And if you find yourself struggling to sleep at night, a short walk before bed can help to promote better sleep. So next time you're feeling sluggish, take a walk and see if it doesn't give you a much-needed boost of energy.
Walking can be a social activity that helps you connect with others.
Walking is often seen as a solitary activity, but it can actually be a great way to socialize. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll with a friend or power walking with a group, walking is a great way to stay connected with others. And since it’s low-impact and doesn’t require any special equipment, it’s an activity that anyone can enjoy. Walking is also a great way to explore your community. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll see when you’re out on a walk. So the next time you need some fresh air, take a walk and see who you bump into. To get ready for an effective walking routine, Rosemarie advises that "preparation is key and having a pair of sneakers available under the desk or in the trunk of your car will help you to seize more opportunities to walk. Set a specific day and reminders on your phone to make sure you accomplish it. Write it in your schedule or ask a friend to hold you accountable. In the midst of our busy lives and ever expanding To Do lists, it is easy for best laid plans to walk consistently to fall by the wayside. Nature walks taken in the morning for 5-10 minutes can become a fixture in your morning routine that help you to enjoy the moment. This is a great way to get your day off to a great start feeling centered and mentally prepared. Try to remain present and focus on how your body feels as it moves through space. Take long deep breaths and let your arms swing freely. Consciously relax parts of your body like your belly and thighs. Use this as an opportunity to be mindful and tune in to sensory input from all of your senses. Smell, sight, taste touch, hearing." Whether you walk for fitness or fun, these health benefits of walking are sure to get you motivated. So put on your walking shoes and hit the road!