The surprising benefits of walking for weight loss
If you’re looking for a pleasurable way to get more exercise, the simple act of walking each day might be your best weight-loss solution. As one of the easiest, cheapest, and most readily available forms of exercise, walking for weight loss has found its rebirth in health circles.
We tend to think that exercise has to be intense and sweaty to be effective. But research shows that some of the world’s longest-living populations aren’t people who regularly hit the gym. Rather, they are people who have made regular activity a part of their daily lives, whether that means growing food in their gardens, chopping firewood, or simply getting lots of steps in every day.
Research suggests walking for weight loss works
Studies suggest walking is every bit as effective as high-intensity interval training and/or running for weight loss over the long-term. While these more extreme forms of exercise may reveal greater short-term effects, when it comes to sustainable weight loss throughout our lifetime, walking often and regularly is highly likely to be every bit as beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s more, both forms of exercise — walking and running have similar beneficial effects on diabetes prevention and cardiovascular health. Enthusiasts of both activities enjoy roughly the same benefits when it comes to blood pressure, cholesterol, and a lowered risk of heart disease.
Walking can be done intermittently
Breaking up movement throughout the day is an ideal way to keep things interesting. Inserting 10-15 minute walks throughout your work day gives you the energy to be more productive and also adds a bit of variety to your schedule.
To reap the weight-loss rewards of walking, you don’t have to do it in one fell swoop. As long as you get 30-40 minutes of walking in each day, this time frame can be broken up in whatever increments make sense for you and your lifestyle. Maybe you have a 15-minute walk during your lunch break and a 20-minute evening walk after dinner. Perhaps taking three (10-minute) walks — one in the morning, afternoon, and evening — can serve as effective pick me-ups.
Walking requires only you and nature
The beauty of walking is that you don’t need anything but yourself. There’s no need for a gym membership, no need for fancy workout clothes, and no need for exercise equipment. Sure, a good pair of shoes is necessary, but life requires those anyway! You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership, and you certainly don’t need to spend a dime to use Mother Nature’s outdoor exercise facilities. If you like, however, you can invest in a treadmill or stair stepper for your home so that you can get your steps in even when the weather isn’t cooperating!
Walking reduces breast cancer risk
One of the many surprising benefits of a regular walking routine is its ability to reduce the risk of breast cancer. While any form of exercise helps reduce cancer risk, it’s possible that walking has an even greater effect.
To really harness the breast cancer reduction effect of walking, you’ll want to walk for one hour each day. Again, breaking the hour up into whatever increments work best for you is perfectly fine. You may want to purchase a device that keeps track of your steps and log your time to further motivate you. This may sound like a lot of walking, but once you get going, it’s not that hard. Come up with ways to add extra steps into your day. If you can walk somewhere rather than drive, do it! You’ll find walking also relaxes you while driving can add to your stress levels.
Walking helps reduce cravings
One of the lesser known and more surprising health benefits of walking is its capacity to curb cravings. Some studies show that a regular walking routine decreases our appetite for unhealthy foods like candies, chocolates, and sugary snacks. The more you walk, the healthier you’ll feel, which can lead to a desire for healthier food choices overall.
Walking boosts the immune system
In this day and age, we all need a natural immune boost, and the more you walk, the more you’ll boost your immune system. Research shows that walking a minimum of 20 minutes each day, five days a week, has significant benefits for immune function.
One study in particular which was conducted on 1,000 men and women, showed that those who walked for 20 minutes, five days a week took 43% fewer sick days than their more sedentary peers. What’s more, those walkers who did happen to get sick had milder symptoms, and only a brief period of illness in comparison to those who led a more sedentary lifestyle. Even as the days turn cooler, you can still get out and walk. Bundle up — even in the winter — and you’ll be less likely to come down with the typical cold or flu this season.
Walking for weight loss has never been easier
If you’re serious about upgrading your health with a regular walking routine, the time to do so is now! You deserve to experience radiant health — no matter your age or current physical state. There’s no preparation needed to begin a weight-loss walking program. In fact, you can start this very second! Start slowly, and then gradually increase your steps or amount of time spent each day enjoying this simple fitness routine.
Create a routine that works for you — whether that’s walking on a treadmill while listening to your favorite tunes, meeting a friend each morning for a 30-minute walk and gab session, or walking in solitude along a nature trail. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just lace up your walking shoes and get going!
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