Walking is amazing for the human body. Even just 30 minutes per day walking laps around the mall or around the block can do wonders for your health and work toward the 150 minutes of exercise weekly that is recommended. Harvard Medical School recently published an article about five surprising benefits of walking and we're here with five more that'll have you putting your walking shoes on and zipping out the door.
Walking Lowers Your Blood Sugar
Walking is a simple and effective way to lower blood sugar levels. Walking enough to get your heart pumping counts as aerobic exercise and can help with lowering your blood sugar. When you exercise, your muscles use glucose as fuel, which in turn helps to reduce the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. Exercise increases your body's sensitivity to insulin, which lets your muscle cells better absorb and use any insulin in the body to uptake glucose during and after your exercise while muscles contract. This means that even a short walk after a meal can help to bring down blood sugar levels. Additionally, walking can improve insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to use insulin more effectively and further lowering your blood sugar. Incorporating walking into your daily routine can be a powerful tool for controlling blood sugar levels and promoting overall health. The after effects of walking continue up to 24 hours after your walking session, encouraging your body to use up blood sugar and keep levels lower than no walking.
Regular physical activity such as walking can also lead to weight loss and improved cardiovascular health, both of which are important for managing diabetes. If you have a condition like diabetes and find that you have issues controlling your blood sugar levels, adding some physical activity to your daily routine by taking a walk around the block or going hiking up a trail can help keep those levels at a lower, more manageable level.
Walking Improves Your Mood
Walking when in a funk is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get yourself out of that bad mood. This is because as you walk, you increase blood flow and blood circulation in the brain and body. As the blood flows, it positively influences your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for managing your stress response. As you walk, you soothe the area in your brain making you feel stressed, which alleviates it.
Walking can also lead to the brain’s release of endorphins, which are natural chemicals that help to boost your mood and reduce feelings of pain and stress. Walking outdoors in nature can be particularly beneficial, as exposure to sunlight and fresh air can also have a positive effect on mental health.
You can further increase this effect by having a buddy walk with you a few days each week. Not only will you improve your mood, but you'll also build positive social interactions that can improve self-esteem and stave off depression. Incorporating regular walking into your routine can be a simple and effective way to improve your mood and overall well-being.
Walking Helps With Creative Thinking
According to research conducted at Stanford University, walking can enhance creative thinking and boost inspiration. The study involved 176 adults who were tested on their creativity levels while engaging in different activities, such as walking indoors on a treadmill, sitting indoors facing a wall, walking outdoors, or sitting in a wheelchair outdoors while someone else pushed them. The participants demonstrated significantly higher levels of creativity while walking outdoors compared to any other group. This effect was particularly pronounced when the participants walked in natural settings, such as in a park or on a tree-lined path.
One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that walking helps to stimulate the brain and enhance blood flow (as explained above) to the areas responsible for creativity and problem-solving. Additionally, being outdoors in nature can provide a refreshing change of scenery and inspire new ideas. Walking can also help to alleviate stress and improve overall mental health, which can further enhance cognitive function and creative thinking.
Boost your creativity by incorporating regular walking breaks into your routine, especially in natural environments. You can use this time to let your mind wander and brainstorm new ideas, or you can use a phone or notepad to jot down any thoughts that come to mind while you walk. Overall, walking is a simple and effective way to enhance your creative thinking and promote overall well-being.
Walking Helps You Sleep Better
Regular physical activity, such as walking, can have a positive impact on sleep quality, particularly for individuals who struggle with insomnia. A study published in ScienceDirect found a positive relationship between daily active minutes and sleep quality. Specifically, the study found that women who walked more and engaged in higher levels of physical activity experienced better sleep compared to those who were less active. Walking - a form of exercise - can help to regulate the body's internal clock, which in turn can help to promote better sleep patterns. Additionally, physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety levels, both of which can interfere with sleep. Engaging in daytime walks can help to increase blood flow, release endorphins, and improve overall energy levels; this contributes to better night’s sleep. Incorporating regular physical activity, such as walking, into your daily routine can improve sleep quality.
Walking Boosts Productivity
Taking a break to walk around, even for just a few minutes, can have numerous benefits, including a boost in productivity. Recent research has shown that walking can have a significant impact on cognitive function, which in turn can lead to increased productivity in the workplace. This 2021 study found that white-collar workers who took walking breaks or participated in walking meetings showed higher levels of creativity, improved mood, and increased productivity.
Physical activity can help to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which in turn can improve cognitive function and mental alertness. Additionally, walking can reduce stress and provide a refreshing break from the demands of the workday, leading to a greater ability to concentrate. Walking in-between meetings can also increase engagement and participation, leading to a more collaborative and productive work environment. Whether you take a quick stroll around the block or schedule a walking meeting with colleagues, a little bit of physical activity can go a long way towards enhancing your productivity and success in the workplace.
Keep on walking…
Walking is an excellent activity. We’d like to thank Harvard's original article on walking for inspiration. There’s so many benefits of walking, we felt it necessary to keep building on the list. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that is accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels, there’s numerous health benefits, it helps reduce risks of diseases and mental fatigue… walking is just a wonderful activity. Keep on walking and make it your convenient and sustainable way to promote overall health and well-being.