Walking is good for you, really good for you. Walking is what the human body evolved to do for long periods throughout every day, but many of us don’t walk much in our modern lifestyles. Our bodies and brains thrive when we walk. Without it, we may watch our health and happiness deteriorate. You don’t need to start marathon walking to get better health. It can start with simple steps that you can incorporate into your day.
If you find yourself feeling worried about your health, walking is one of the best things you can do to improve your physical well-being. Walking helps reduce the risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease (Williams & Thompson, 2013). Increasing your walking activity even by low levels can have big benefits to your health (Kelly et al., 2014). While long walks have additional health benefits, starting with short walks can boost your energy and reduce your risk of health problems.
Mental health is can decline with sedentary behavior and improve with just walking. Depression and anxiety can both be reduced by walking daily (Chen, Tsai, Wu, Lin, & Lin, 2015). Your mental health can improve just by being near a city park where you can walk frequently (Sturm & Cohen, 2014).
Benefits are not just about avoiding disease and disorders. If you want to become more creative, walking can boost the creative processes of your brain, especially if you walk outdoors (Oppezzo & Schwartz, 2014).
If you already walk every day, great! Consider adding just add 5 more minutes.
Walking an additional 5 minutes every morning is a good place to start increasing your daily walking activity. Doing it in the morning helps you boost your walking habit early in the day. This may help you increasing your walking later in the day. However, if you can’t go for a walk in the morning, do it as soon as you can, such as during your lunch break.
If you can’t walk outside, walk indoors. Use a treadmill or elliptical. Walk around your house or office. Walk in place if you don’t have much room to move around.
If you can’t walk due to a disability, try to increase your physical activity for 5 minutes using any method you can, and at the very least, get outside for 5 minutes.
Walking can be attached to lots of activities. Go to the mailbox and walk around the block. Walk your dog (or your neighbor’s dog). Walk while you drink your morning cup of coffee or tea.
If you are pressed for time, you can incorporate your walk into your morning commute. Take public transportation or park a block away from your commute destination. Walk to school or work if you can.
It only takes 5 extra minutes to improve your well-being.
Remember: Wellness Habits Are the Foundation of a Life of Well-Being
Chen, H.-M., Tsai, C.-M., Wu, Y.-C., Lin, K.-C., & Lin, C.-C. (2015). Randomised controlled trial on the effectiveness of home-based walking exercise on anxiety, depression and cancer-related symptoms in patients with lung cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 112(3), 438–445. https://doi.org/10.1038/bjc.2014.612
Kelly, P., Kahlmeier, S., Götschi, T., Orsini, N., Richards, J., Roberts, N., … Foster, C. (2014). Systematic review and meta-analysis of reduction in all-cause mortality from walking and cycling and shape of dose response relationship. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11, 132. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-014-0132-x
Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142–1152. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036577
Sturm, R., & Cohen, D. (2014). Proximity to urban parks and mental health. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 17(1), 19–24.
Williams, P. T., & Thompson, P. D. (2013). Walking vs running for hypertension, cholesterol, & diabetes risk reduction. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 33(5), 1085–1091. https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300878