Now that summer’s officially in full swing, it only makes sense that you’d want to spend as much time outside as possible. Relaxed backyard barbecues with family, lazy picnics with friends, and long days spent by the pool are the order of the day right now. However, there’s also a lot to be said for getting up, getting out, and doing something active.
Being active can certainly mean taking up jogging, but enjoying a little activity this summer can also be as simple as lacing up your walking shoes and taking a stroll. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of implementing a walking regime as a regular part of your summer repertoire.
Walking helps you keep your weight in check.
Although the winter season probably has the worst time for being a time to overindulge, summer definitely comes along with its own share of challenges to your otherwise svelte figure. Think family barbecues, deep-fried carnival food, and those irresistible ballpark hot dogs! Add walking to your daily routine, and you’ll keep extra pounds at bay.
Not only is walking one of the best exercises for losing and maintaining weight, but it’s accessible to everyone. It’s easy on the joints, not to mention absolutely free to implement—no expensive gym membership or fancy equipment required! Start by adding a 20-minute stroll to your routine every day and work your way up to 30 minutes or more. At some point, you may also want to buy a pedometer and work on achieving the recommended goal of 10,000 steps per day.
Walks can help undo the damage caused by prolonged sitting.
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably go straight from logging long hours at work to parking yourself on the couch for the better part of your evening. The average person spends a minimum of eight hours every day sitting, which can lead to a wealth of health issues, including but not limited to organ damage, bad posture, heart problems, and muscle loss.
The good news is walking can reverse a lot of the damage caused by a sedentary lifestyle, and you don’t have to do much to reap the benefits. For instance, just 3-5 minutes a day can reverse the leg artery damage caused by three hours of sitting. Even when you don’t have time for a bona fide stroll, taking the occasional quick break to walk around your workplace can work wonders.
Walking is a great way to boost your creativity.
If you’re a creative individual, then you don’t need to be told how frustrating mind blocks can be, especially since they sneak up at the busiest times. It doesn’t help that simply buckling down and willing yourself to come up with the next great idea only seems to make things worse!
Next time you find yourself dealing with a major creative block, try stepping away from your desk and going for a short stroll around the block instead of fruitlessly staring into your computer screen waiting for inspiration to strike. Researchers have identified a link between walking and creativity. When you’re walking, your brain produces up to twice as many creative responses as it does when you are sedentary, and it continues to do so for a short time afterward. Take advantage of the warm summer weather while it’s here, and then switch to walking on a treadmill or an indoor track once it gets chilly again.
Walking outdoors helps manage stress.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why an outdoor walk on your favorite hiking trail or through a local park is so soothing? It’s not all in your head. According to research conducted at Heriot-Watt University, a leisurely walk through a lush, green space triggers a meditative response in the human brain. The effect is particularly profound in people who are stressed out because of an emotionally traumatic event.
Plus, the very act of walking or engaging in any other type of exercise helps release feel-good endorphins into your system. The more walking you do, the greater the effects. Walking can help improve your ability to digest a meal as well, so a stroll in the park makes for the perfect lunch hour activity.
Walking can make your commute a lot more pleasant.
Most people face a daily car commute, and it could be doing you more harm than good from a mental health standpoint. Connections have been found between a person’s psychological well-being and the amount of time they spend commuting by car—the longer the commute, the less contented people feel, overall.
Active commuting, on the other hand, has been shown to have the opposite effect. If you live close to where you work, consider walking to the office a couple of days a week. Even if you can’t walk the entire way, adding as few as 10 minutes of walking to the mix has been linked to mental and emotional benefits equivalent to an income raise or the start of a new relationship.
Don’t forget to wear proper walking shoes or cross trainers during your commute to ensure that your body has the proper support! Just put your work shoes in your bag and slip them away once you arrive.
Walking is a great way to boost your energy levels.
Lots of people say they’d love to walk more and would definitely do it if only they weren’t so tired all the time. They assume that walking will only make them even more fatigued, but the opposite is true. Low-intensity exercise like walking can increase your energy levels by up to 20% and make you feel up to 65% less fatigued.
That said, resist the urge to simply head for the break room for another energy drink the next time you feel a mid-afternoon slump coming on. Try taking a quick break and going for a stroll in the sunshine instead. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.
Regular walking can help keep you from getting sick.
Nothing throws a wrench in the machine quite like a cold, so it only makes sense to do everything in your power to keep illness at bay. It just so happens that a brisk 30-45 minute walk each day delivers a powerful boost to your immune system.
Not only are regular walkers and exercisers less likely to get sick in the first place, but, when they do catch colds, they’re shorter and less severe. Plus, there’s no better time to cultivate a regular walking habit than summertime. Get started now, and your immune system will be in excellent shape by the time cold and flu season rolls around later in the year.
Walking now can keep you young later in life.
All of us look forward to the possibility of living to a ripe old age. However, no one wants to grow older and have trouble with mobility or health problems. Add walking to your routine now, and you drastically improve your chances of staying sharp, mobile, and healthy well into old age.
Regular walking will keep your heart, lungs, joints, and muscles strong as you get older. It will make it a lot easier to maintain a healthy body weight as well. Walking even helps keep your mind active. Older adults who maintain a walking regime retain higher memory function and cognitive ability than less active peers.
Walking as a family helps your children grow up to have good values.
The lessons you learn in childhood really do last a lifetime, so it’s important to make sure we’re teaching our little ones the right things. Walking is the perfect way to instill key values. To begin with, getting them into the habit of daily walking not only teaches them how important exercise is, but it also shows them how fun it can be. They’ll also have the opportunity to meet other people in their neighborhood. Making it a point to walk as a family helps strengthen familial bonds as well.
What’s more, going for regular walks in a natural area provides you with the perfect opportunity to teach your children about the environment and how important conservation is. Children can learn all about different plants, animals, birds, and flowers. If you’re a spiritual family, getting out in nature is a great way to open conversations about the deeper meaning of life. Outfit the littlest members of your family up with some new athletic shoes for kids and see where the journey takes you!
Walking can make your love life better.
Lacing up those cross-trainers and hitting your favorite walking trail doesn’t just come with benefits for your cardiovascular system and body composition. There’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest it can work wonders for your intimate life as well.
Studies show that people with active lifestyles have more rewarding relationships. Regular exercise improves blood flow throughout the entire body, so it really does help your mind and body work more efficiently.
Adding walking to your routine can even help you sleep better.
Are you one of the millions of people who has trouble getting enough good quality sleep every night? Before you hit the drug store and grab that box of sleeping pills, start walking on a regular basis and see what happens!
Walking doesn’t just help you feel more energized while you’re awake. It makes you significantly less likely to have trouble sleeping later as well. Again, it doesn’t take much to make a difference. As little as 10-15 minutes of any aerobic exercise can make insomnia a thing of the past. You also lowered your risk for developing sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Walking puts you in a great mood.
Lacing up your walking shoes, grabbing your water bottle, and heading out the door for a brisk stroll on a summer day is one of the easiest ways to feel fantastic. Not only does the act of walking energize the body, but the feeling of the sun on your skin really rejuvenates the soul. Walking also connects you with your surrounding community.
It’s the perfect way to get out of your head for a little while as well, especially if you struggle with issues like depression and anxiety. People who consistently spend 200 minutes or more walking every week reported feeling significantly better emotionally, as well as feeling less confined by conditions like depression.
All things considered, walking really tops the list when it comes to fantastic activities to add to your routine this summer. Get started today and experience the difference for yourself!