I thought I'd author a post about how walking, humanity's primary means of locomotion, is amazingly fucking beneficial to us in both body and mind. Walking is a fantastic exercise that humans can do for their general health and well-being.
Walking is my absolute favorite form of exercise. I'm a fast walker (generally walk a mile in 18 to 20 minutes -- usually 20 minutes) and have been walking regularly for about 15 years now. I try to go walking at least a few times a week, usually for one mile (or about 20 minutes) at a time. I've noticed that walking has benefited me so much over the years that I decided to look into the actual mental and physical health benefits of walking to show you all just how wonderful this simple, most basic method of human locomotion really is.
Of course, in order to show how amazingly wonderful walking is for us, I'm going to have to pepper this post with a few links to articles about the many benefits of walking for regular exercise. I hope that you'll take the time to read, or at least skim through the article links that I share here so you can absorb all of the useful information. I'll do my best to quote or summarize the most important bits to make this post more easily digestible for you.
First up is a link from the American Heart Association:
The major takeaway from the above article link is the following:
OK, so you’re not much into running? Or maybe you’ve had an injury and can’t run. Then just walk — every step you take is part of your journey to good heart health.
In fact, walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running, according to a new study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkley, Calif. All three conditions are risk factors for heart disease and stroke — and you can do something about them.
Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners’ Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate- intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study’s six years.
Regular brisk walking can give you almost all of the same health benefits as running or jogging! Not only that, but in the long-term walking is a lower impact exercise and is less likely to lead to injuries.
Next up we've got a nice Harvard Medical School article about walking:
For this one I'm just going to copy and paste as it's in a list format:
1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes.
Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
2. It helps tame a sweet tooth.
A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.
3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.
Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.
4. It eases joint pain.
Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
5. It boosts immune function.
Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
The next article is also written in a list format, so again I'm just going to copy and paste the content for you.
1. Your mood will improve.
You know how sometimes it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark chocolate to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, going for a walk is a zero-calorie strategy with the same benefits, says Jampolis. "Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system so much that you'll experience a decrease in anger and hostility," she says. What's more, when you make your walks social—you stride with, say, your partner, a neighbor, or a good friend—that interaction helps you feel connected, says Jampolis, which boosts mood. Finally, walking outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which can help stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—making it a potential antidote for the winter blues, says Jampolis. (Burn calories and build muscle—all while boosting your mood—with Walk Your Way To Better Health!)
2. Your creative juices will start flowing.
Whether you're feeling stuck at work or you've been searching for a solution to a tricky problem, research shows it's a good idea to get moving: According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. "Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters," says Jampolis.
3. Your jeans will get a little looser.
This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Jampolis. "As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much," she says. "That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat."
Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. "Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older," says Iasevoli. The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. "One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile," she says.
4. You'll slash your risk of chronic disease.
The statistics are impressive: The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes. Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%. One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, found that those who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines (30 or more minutes of moderate activity on 5 or more days per week) had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly. "The physical benefits of walking are well documented," says Scott Danberg, director of fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. With impressive results like these, there's a good chance you'll get a pat on the back from your doc at your next checkup.
5. You'll keep your legs looking great.
As we age, our risk of unsightly varicose veins increases—it's just not fair. However, walking is a proven way to prevent those unsightly lines from developing, says Luis Navarro, MD, founder and director of The Vein Treatment Center in New York City. "The venous system includes a circulatory section known as 'the second heart,' which is formed by muscles, veins, and valves located in our calf and foot," he explains. "This system works to push blood back up to the heart and lungs—and walking strengthens this secondary circulatory system by strengthening and preserving leg muscle, which boosts healthy blood flow." If you already suffer from varicose veins, walking daily can help ease related swelling and restlessness in your legs, says Navarro. "Also, if you are genetically predisposed to have varicose and/or spider veins, walking daily can help delay the onset."
6. You'll start to get more "regular."
If you currently praise coffee for keeping your digestive system going strong, get ready to start thanking your morning walk instead. That's because a regular walking routine can greatly improve gastric mobility, says Tara Alaichamy, DPT, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. "One of the very first things an abdominal surgery patient is required to do is to walk because it utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system," she says. (Check out these 7 things your poop says about your health.)
7. Your other goals will start to seem more reachable.
When you become a regular walker, you will have established a regular routine—and when you have a routine, you are more likely to continue with the activity and take on new healthy behaviors. "I firmly believe that walking regularly can help you to accomplish other goals you set your mind to," says Kim Evans, a personal trainer and daily walker.
Finally, we've got one last article written in the format of a list about 12 health benefits of walking:
1. Walking improves circulation.
It also wards off heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart. Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Tennessee found that post-menopausal women who walked just one to two miles a day lowered blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks. Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
2. Walking shores up your bones.
It can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York. In fact, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, study of post-menopausal women found that 30 minutes of walking each day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40 percent.
3. Walking leads to a longer life.
Research out of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System says those who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45 percent less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.
4. Walking lightens mood.
A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were. Why? Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise.
5. Walking can lead to weight loss.
A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped.
6. Walking strengthens muscles.
It tones your leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints and muscles – which are meant to handle weight – helping to lessen arthritis pain
7. Walking improves sleep.
A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk.
8. Walking supports your joints.
The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. Impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area. If you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.
9. Walking improves your breath.
When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.
10. Walking slows mental decline.
A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17-percent decline in memory, as opposed to a 25-percent decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.
11. Walking lowers Alzheimer’s risk.
A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who walked less.
12. Walking helps you do more, longer.
Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living of people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, shows a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.
To me, walking is so much easier to stick with as a form of cardiovascular/aerobic exercise because I can do it pretty much anywhere at any time. I don't necessarily have to dress specifically to go walking as I would if I were to go jogging or running. I don't need any special or expensive footwear. It's free and accessible all-year round. Walking is the most basic human thing that we all do and it's awesome to see just how good it is for us.
I'm hoping that, after reading through all of these wonderful health benefits of something as simple as walking, I can encourage others here to go out and enjoy the occasional walk for exercise and for pleasure. Regular walking really is all that a person needs to get tons of mental and physical health benefits throughout their life.
I feel quite strongly that psilocybin mushrooms are quite extraordinarily enjoyable when paired with a nice walk (dependent on the dose/potency/setting of course.) Walking sparks our creative thinking, improves our mood, lets us get in touch with our animal selves, and allows us to explore. I can't think of anything else I'd rather do while enjoying a low-to-moderate dose, or even a micro-dose, of mushrooms on a nice day. :)
Edited by niemandgeist, 18 October 2017 - 02:33 PM.