Unexpected Health Benefits of Walking

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Experts claim that walking is a gentle form of exercise that consumes calories, improves cardiovascular health, and strengthens lungs, bones, and muscles. Some benefits are an accelerated heart rate, lowered blood sugar levels, and mitigation of joint pain. Regular walking is linked to improved mood and mental health. There are also some not-so-obvious benefits to walking, which are listed below.

Helps Stabilize Weight Gain

A research experiment conducted on individuals who walked an hour everyday showed that walking helped reduce by half the impact of weight-increasing genes in the participants’ bodies. Ever worry about your belly fat spilling outwards? Well, fret not. A walk around the block for an hour every night (perhaps after dinner) helps to put your body on autopilot mode for weight management.

Improves Immune System

In a study of 1,000 participants, walking for twenty minutes every day for five days a week helped them reduce their sick days, in comparison to those who did no exercise at all. Those who did get sick had lighter symptoms and recovered sooner. This applies especially to sickness from cold and flu.

Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Another study found that women who walked long hours weekly were at lower risk for getting breast cancer. The reduction rate was 14 percent, compared to those who walked fewer than three hours each week. This also rang true for those who were more prone to breast cancer due to factors such as excessive weight or taking hormonal supplements.

Tones Your Legs and Abs

Walking utilizes the quadriceps and hamstrings, the front and back muscles in the upper legs, and the hip abductors — also known as the gluteus minimus and gluteus maximus that define the butt area — and the lower leg muscles of the calf. Surprisingly, the abs are also involved in walking, especially in the forward motion. Also known as the core of the body, these muscles are responsible for overall bodily strength and mobility. For good definition in your tummy area, be sure to get some steps in every day.

Allows for Creative Thinking

Walking allows you to turn your mind into a blank canvas, allowing you to take in the beautiful surroundings and listen to the sounds of nature. This, in turn, may lead you to have novel and creative ideas for solving existing work-related or life problems.

Reduces Stress

Studies indicate that the activity involved in walking leads to relaxation and mood improvement through the release of endorphins, which are chemicals found in the brain. When combined with meditation, the relaxing effect is compounded. Counting steps is a form of meditation that makes your mind attentive to the act of walking, so you can switch from thinking about worldly troubles to concentrating on your exercise.

Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer

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