When Charles Dickens once said, “walk to be healthy, walk to be happy” he probably didn’t realize that after more than one hundred years, his words would literally become true!
WALK TO BE HEALTHY
Walking is considered the first step in cardiovascular disease prevention, where scientists and health professionals have proven that a few steps every day can reduce your risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Walking requires no special skills and is frequently cited as an example of a moderate-intensity exercise that can be achieved by all ages every day and with minimum risk of injury. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), walking has a significant impact on a healthier lifestyle as it lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your heart, boosts heart rate, improves your blood circulation, increases your lungs’ ability to take in oxygen, and increases blood supply to your brain1-3.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity are associated with the development of health problems, including obesity. Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise that reduces body fat and prevents weight gain. Researchers from Harvard Medical School have proven that walking regularly helps burn more calories and reduces body fat including abdominal fat, which is dangerous to health, and can help to manage and eliminate diabetes. It also improves HDL levels “good cholesterol” and lowers LDL levels “bad cholesterol”. 4
WALK AWAY FROM CANCER!
Studies have shown that physical activity as walking has a direct link to the prevention of seven different types of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. More than 60 studies have strongly suggested that women who exercise regularly can expect a 20%-30% reduction in the chance of getting breast cancer via reducing estrogen levels, decreasing tissue responsiveness to female sex hormones, or both. Additionally, when you’re physically active your body produces less insulin and insulin-like growth factor, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. 5-6
A study conducted by the American Cancer Society has found a connection between walking and low mortality risk. Likewise, researchers find that regular physical exercise such as walking has anti-aging benefits, which may reach a 3-7 rise in lifespan and can even lower your risk of death by up to 39 percent (when compared with no leisure-time physical activity). 7-8
“Going for a walk at an average to brisk pace can provide people with a tremendous health benefit. It’s free, easy, and can be done anywhere,” Alpa Patel, PhD, American Cancer Society
WALK TO BE HAPPY
MENTAL HEALTH, CREATIVITY, AND MEMORY
From Charles Dickens to Hippocrates who also said “If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk”. Well, it’s 100% scientifically true. The benefits of walking for the mind are doubtless, as researches have proven the impact of walking on enhancing psychological state including relieving stress, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), improving sleep, and is a way of distracting us from the negative thoughts that trigger depression. Endorphins, happiness hormones, natural painkillers, and mental health boosters are released from the brain in response to walking. Moreover walking boosts creativity and refreshes memory, where scientists have discovered that 40 minutes of walking three times a week for a year increases the size of the hippocampus which is a part of the brain responsible for forming and storing memories, especially episodic or relational memory.9-12
“The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk” Jacqueline Schiff
From now on, don’t let the wrong beliefs or perceived barriers of not having the time, energy, motivation or not being “the sporty type” stop you. Be healthy, be happy, lose weight, fight off cancer, and live longer. The outside world calls!