Walking is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, and yet many of us don’t do enough of it. Most Americans live a car-to-chair lifestyle, skipping their steps in favor of wheels and screens. But walking is one of the simplest ways to fight off chronic diseases that can wreak havoc on your body and brain. 6 reasons why you should go for a walk right now:
IT’S A POTENT DISEASE FIGHTER.
Walking regularly has been found to bolster immunity, increase circulation, and help fight chronic disease. A 2015 study also discovered that a brisk 20-minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual’s risk of early death.
YOUR BRAIN BENEFITS, TOO.
Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) found that the act of walking boosts blood circulation to the brain, boosting mental function and overall sense of well-being. This is likely due to the release of endorphins, those feel-good, mood-boosting brain chemicals released during exercise.
IT PAIRS PERFECTLY WITH CHOCOLATE (REALLY!)
Walking is an enormously powerful tool for helping to curb cravings. In a University of Exeter study, participants who took a 15-minute walk during a break from their office environment snacked on smaller portions of chocolate than those who remained at their desk. The next time a craving creeps up, do a lap around the office before you (or instead of) strolling to the vending machine.
FEELING STUCK? GO FOR A WALK!
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was known for conducting meetings during walks – a practice he copied from other great minds like Aristotle, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Dickens. A 2014 Stanford University study says they may have been on to something: Creativity levels in walkers are consistently and significantly higher than sitters, with walkers averaging a 60% increase in creative output. The next time a problem’s got you stumped, go for a stroll to get the creative juices flowing.
YOU’RE ALREADY A PRO AT IT.
Unlike some other forms of exercise, which require fancy equipment or expensive gyms, walking is a free workout you can do almost anywhere. You can walk year-round, indoors or out, in any pair of shoes you own (though I do recommend a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers). If you’re just starting out or returning to exercise after a long hiatus, walking has a low potential for injury with high potential for health.
IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO REAP THE BENEFITS.
A few ways to up your step count today:
- Park in the back of the parking lot, whether at your office, the grocery story, or the commuter train station. Those extra steps add up quickly!
- If you take the bus or subway to work, get off a stop or two before your usual stop to get a few extra blocks under your belt.
- Bypass the overcrowded elevators and take the stairs instead.
- Instead of e-mailing your colleague on the other side of the office, walk over to their desk.
- Set a timer on your phone or desktop to remind you to “take a lap” at regular intervals to energize your body and clear your head.
- Drink plenty of water, tea, or herbal tea – hydration encourages more frequent walks to the restroom.
- Do errands on foot whenever possible.
- After dinner, take a walk with family or pets around your neighborhood. It will help you digest, enjoy the outdoors, and share a little quality time.