7 Reasons Your Body Wants You to Walk
People walk because it’s easy to do. Not only is it easy, but it doesn’t cost a cent to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Plus, you gain the added bonus of experiencing new sights and sounds with every walk.
It’s also relaxing, has the ability to relieve stress and can give you a deep sense of peace that lasts long after the walk is finished.
But besides all of the fun things you can see and the stress relief you get, walking has a ton of health benefits that anyone can enjoy.
Even if you walk just to get out of the house, you’re going to reap some rewards for your body from this simple movement. By doing something that’s easy and fun, you reward yourself with a healthier, longer life.
Many health related problems are directly related to a lack of movement. The more sedentary you are, the higher your risk of experiencing a serious health issue and a shorter lifespan.
Walking is one of the easiest ways that you can prevent health problems. This simple, yet effective means of exercise is a great way to lose weight, build your muscles, add bone strength and relieve overall body tension.
Let’s dive in and look at 7 specific ways walking can make you healthier. And, yes, diabetes and prediabetes made the list. Read on to find out more…
1. Prediabetes and Diabetes
Prediabetes can be eliminated and diabetes sugar levels can be controlled with walking.
According to the CDC, in 2014, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes stood at 22 million and growing.
In addition, it seems likely that millions more don’t even know they have the disease.
Perhaps even more shocking, the CDC estimates that 86 million Americans have prediabetes. With most people unaware that they have it, their odds are quite high of developing diabetes.
Diabetes can lead to a host of severe complications such as kidney failure, limb amputation, blindness, and early death.
Diabetes is currently the 7th most likely cause of death in the United States.
Yet, it’s a disease that can be avoided and can be well controlled so that it doesn’t lead to an early death. Though family history plays a role in whether or not you will become diabetic, you can lower your risk.
One of the ways easy ways to lower your risk is by walking. Walking lowers the risk factors as well as turns back the odds of prediabetes swinging over into full-blown diabetes.
If you already have diabetes, then walking can help lower your blood sugar readings. You’ll also gain improvement in your blood circulation, which can help stave off blood flow complications often caused by the disease.
You gain more insulin receptors when you walk.You gain more insulin receptors when you walk. Click To Tweet
These receptors are what the body uses to help facilitate the proper use of glucose so you end up with better sugar control.
By walking to help stave off or control diabetes, you help prevent complications to your kidneys, your heart, your eyes and your limbs. You lower your risk for stroke as well.
Even if you don’t have a family history of strokes, you’ll want to do what you can to keep this health emergency at bay. Strokes are not only debilitating, but they are also often fatal.
In fact, out of all the possible causes of health related fatalities, strokes are high on the list. According to the CDC, over 133,000 Americans are killed by stroke each year.
Yet, more than half of all strokes are preventable. A stroke happens when the flow of blood to the brain is impeded.
There are two common kinds of stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic. According to the CDC, 85% of strokes are ischemic strokes.
An ischemic stroke occurs when plaque builds up in an artery. This plaque narrows the artery and though this can happen as you age, you can bring on a stroke by engaging in some of the known risk behaviors.
These risk behaviors include smoking and the overuse of alcoholic beverages. But the risks are elevated if you’re overweight, have high cholesterol, or have high blood pressure.
People with diabetes are at greater risk for stroke than people who don’t have the disease.
But also on the list of risky behaviors is living a sedentary lifestyle. Even if you absolutely hate exercising, you want to do something that cuts your risk of having a stroke.
You can start walking at any age. By the time you reach your mid 50s, your chance of having a stroke increases. And if you add any of the risky behaviors, your increase is even greater.
With a regular walking program, you can decrease your risk of a stroke significantly.
In fact, your heart stands to gain many benefits when you walk. Your heart is an organ that has a lot of responsibilities to all of the other parts of your body. It’s tasked with making sure that your organs get the blood and oxygen they need to stay in good shape.
So if your heart suffers, so do all of your other organs. Not only can the organs in your body experience trouble if your heart’s not in good shape, but your muscles and joints can, too.
This is one of the reasons that you can end up with swelling around the ankles. If your heart isn’t pumping properly, it allows fluid to accumulate.
Your heart is an organ, but it’s also a muscle. That means you can strengthen your heart with movement such as walking.
Walking enables your heart to do its job better and with less effort. Coronary diseases can be reduced or avoided in many cases when you walk regularly.
The good news is, you can lower your risk of developing coronary disease even if you have a family history filled with risk factors.
By engaging in a regular walking program, you can bring down your risk level to the point where it’s lower than that of someone who doesn’t have any coronary disease factors at all.
If you walk briskly, you can give your heart the same health benefits that you would gain if you ran on a regular basis. Not only that, walkers don’t usually experience foot and joint injuries like runners.
Medical studies presented by the American Heart Association show that some of the benefits you gain include lower cholesterol and lower high blood pressure.
You’ll also have better blood flow. Your heart will have an easier time circulating the blood that your body needs to ensure proper organ function. Your organs will also gain better oxygen levels when the heart gets the exercise it needs.
Another heart benefit from walking is that you can also lower your LDL cholesterol level, which is one of the main culprits in heart disease. You want to strive for this benefit because LDL cholesterol can narrow the arteries used to take blood to the heart.
This causes your body to not get the right amount of oxygen to the heart and you could end up having a heart attack. When you walk, not only can you lower the numbers on your LDL cholesterol level, but you can also raise your HDL level.
4. Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure numbers can be improved with walking. Having high blood pressure is a risky health condition because there are often no symptoms until the pressure has been high for years.
This elevation can cause damage to your arteries. With an elevated blood pressure, your heart has to increase its efforts to get the blood through your body. Untreated high blood pressure, or poorly controlled blood pressure, can lead to your heart becoming enlarged.
Regular walking can even lower your blood pressure to the point that you may be able to reduce or eliminate the amount of blood pressure medication you take.
Your bones are strengthened when you walk. You want this strength to help you fight against fractures. Bone fractures are painful to deal with. They take weeks to heal and they can interfere with your work or life activities.
When you walk, if you do it on a consistent basis, you can cut your risk of experiencing a bone fracture. Walking helps for 2 reasons. First, because when you walk, you strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility and balance. And, two, because you gain bone density.
People think of bones as a part of the body that stops growing after a certain age. While it’s true you stop getting taller, your bones are made up of living tissue.
Your bone tissue needs exercise to remain strong and viable. New cells are formed, which help in the increase of density within the bones. This is especially helpful to older people who are at risk of hip fractures.
Having denser bones can stave off hip fractures. The more you walk, the better your bones will do when it comes to strength. Having stronger bones helps fight against getting a fracture in case you fall or get injured.
If you walk, even if it’s only short distances, you can slow or even prevent bone density loss. This lowers your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Your bones and muscles aren’t the only recipients of good health when you walk.
Your brain gains from it as well. Your memory can be improved by walking. The hippocampus in the brain is positively affected. New brain cells are stimulated to grow and new neural connections are formed.
As you age, your brain has some minor shrinkage. But walking helps prevent the shrinkage in the cortex that’s associated with memory. This improvement in the brain is a way that can also help prevent dementia.
Walking can also be a great way to stimulate your brain. By taking along an iPod or phone, you can listen to audiobooks as you walk. There’s an almost limitless number of podcasts and courses you can listen to.
The more active you keep your body, the better it is for your brain’s function. The way that you feel can also be affected by your walking. Your mood can be lifted because endorphins are released when you walk.
These act as a natural mood stabilizer that can last all day, making you feel upbeat. Anxiety can be helped with a walking program and so can depression. Anger is another emotion that can affect your moods, yet can be improved with walking.
By walking when you’re struggling with something emotionally, you can gain a release from the inner turmoil. And you’ll be doing something healthy for your physical body while you’re helping your mind and your mood.
If you take a survey, you’ll discover most of people want to have a long and healthy life. But many of these same people are sabotaging themselves by being too sedentary.
The simple act of going for a walk a few times a week can add years to your life. You get these additional years because walking helps keep your organs healthy by preventing conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and various kinds of heart diseases.
You’ll gain health benefits like stronger bones and better agility when you move. Studies have long shown that going for walks can help you get more restful sleep each night.
Walking is the easiest and most affordable method of improving your health, your longevity, and your happiness. It’s something that you can start slowly and build up over time.
Even if you hate exercising, give walking a try.
Try walking every day for 2 weeks and see what changes it makes in your life.