We all know that we should exercise, but many of us don’t. Less than 50% of youth and 24% of adults get enough exercise. One of the easiest ways to start an exercise routine is with walking.
Time spent walking and moving can improve joint health, muscle strength and flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, sleep quality, immune function, energy, and can even extend your life.
Of particular interest to me as a Physical Therapist is that walking has been found to ease joint pain. Walking helps joints by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles around the joints to better support them.
Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain. We even have evidence that walking 5-6 miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. If that amount of walking sounds like too much for you right now, you will still benefit from walking. A 2019 study found that even limited walking (10 minutes/week) can help to prevent onset of physical disability due to arthritis.
Walking will improve your cardiorespiratory function and heart health. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week.
While some of us may not be ready for moderate or vigorous activity, most can at least start walking. Adults who do walk at least 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) can reduce their risk for coronary heart by 19 percent. Walking more than that can further reduce your risk.
When you get high-quality sleep, you will feel more refreshed during the day which can improve your mood and productivity. Individuals who suffer from insomnia have been found to have a significant reduction in the severity of their symptoms when they participate in the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week.
More specifically, studies have found that those who participate in regular walking in green space may improve both sleep quality and quantity, and reduce episodes of insomnia.
Nobody likes feeling sick. A study found that those who walked 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who only exercised once a week or less. If you did participate in the recommended amount of activity and did get sick, it was for a shorter duration and their symptoms were milder.
Take a Walk
Hopefully you feel more inspired to incorporate walks into your daily routine. I promise, the time you invest in caring for your body will pay dividends in all parts of your life. So stop reading and go for a walk already :)