Walking can do wonders for your body and soul. It’s a miracle drug of sorts – an accessible, affordable, and effective treatment for countless ailments. Here are some excellent reasons that will hopefully encourage you to get out there, start moving, and get healthier.
1. Walking makes you happier.
Moving around outdoors can lift one’s mood quickly. Walking has been found to combat symptoms of depression as effectively as medication. Researchers at Duke University found that “a brisk 30-minute walk or jog around the track three times a week may be just as effective in relieving the symptoms of major depression as the standard treatment of anti-depressant medications.”
2. Walking reduces stress.
People who walk are less stressed, as the act of moving around pushes the stress hormone cortisol through the body, stemming the flow of worries. A study of 18,000 commuters in Britain found that people who walk or bike to work experience lower stress levels than those who drive to work.
3. Walking clears your brain.
Say goodbye to “fuzzy brain,” “brain drain,” “brain fatigue.” Getting outside for a walk will clear your mind and rest it. This is especially true while walking in a rural area or green space, rather than on city streets, where you must remain vigilant at all times. Wandering through a green space allows for reflection and relaxation.
4. Walking induces creativity.
By clearing away any residual fuzziness in the brain, your mind will be open for creativity. Get those creative juices flowing by walking, particularly in a green space. Reader’s Digest reports: “A recent study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that walking improved both convergent and divergent thinking, the two types associated with enhanced creativity.”
5. Walking makes your bones stronger.
Strengthen your bones through regular exercise now in order to avoid factures, osteoporosis, and spine shrinkage down the road. Bone density is built through exercise, including walking, and people who do it have healthier, stronger bones than people who don’t, according to this study from Oxford University.
6. Walking improves concentration.
A study from the University of East Anglia found that people who walk (or bike) to work reported better concentration upon arrival at their jobs. The same has been found for kids who walk to school. A UK Department for Transport survey discovered that 9 out of ten teachers said their students are much more ready to learn if they’ve walked to school.
7. Walking is free.
Forget expensive gym memberships and the gas burned to get you there. Walking doesn’t cost you anything and will provide great exercise for your body. At the same time, you can save money by maintaining good health habits. The Harvard Business Review estimates that for every dollar spent on preventative health, including time spent walking, you’ll save $2.71 in health costs down the road. All the more reason to get it for free.
8. Walking builds relationships.
Get outside with your friends and family and create opportunities for conversation by leaving personal devices behind. A friend told me that being active with her teenage son, while not having to make eye contact, made it comfortable for them to talk about all sorts of tough subjects. Walking enables you to interact with neighbours and your neighborhood in general, which creates a sense of belonging and a better understanding of geography than if you drive around in a vehicle. In the words of urban affairs journalist Christopher Hume, “Walking is a reflection of how we feel about the environment in which we live.”
August 3, 2016
By Katherine Martinko, photo by René Schröder