The Benefits Walking More Each Day
Millions of Americans visit gyms every day for lengthy, intense workouts in order to maintain a healthy weight and avoid the onset of serious health conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. This “no pain, no gain” approach to fitness usually involves a lot of sweating, sore muscles and time. But it doesn’t have to be that way according to a recent study conducted in the Netherlands. A research team at the Maastrict University Medical Centre found that incorporating walking into your daily routine can benefit your health just as much (or more) than lengthy workouts at a gym.
The study, which was reported in NewsmaxHealth, followed three groups of healthy adults. Participants who regularly spent some time standing and walking in the course of the day experienced improvements in cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity that were equal to or better than their “gym-going” counterparts. The Netherlands study concluded that it is better to move more incrementally throughout the day than to sit the majority of the day and then engage in an intense 30-minute workout.
Statistics show that 40 percent of Americans spend most of their day sitting and most people walk 2,000 to 4,000 steps per day. Researchers believe substantial benefits could be achieved if people walked 10,000 steps per day. In fact, three 10-minute walks in the course of the day can render positive results in your weight, your energy level and your overall health.
Walking is a safe, low-impact exercise that is accessible to everyone and requires no special equipment except for a comfortable pair of shoes. Find creative ways to incorporate more walking into your everyday routines. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store instead of driving, enjoy a stroll on your lunch hour, park a few blocks away from your office.
Studies show that walking is especially important for senior citizens. Older adults who are regular walkers have stronger bones, better balance, better range of motion and increased muscle flexibility. The benefits of walking extend to mental health, according to the National Alliance On Mental Illness. A daily walk can help ease anxiety, reduce depression and boost mental alertness. A study reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking a few minutes every day can improve depression faster than prescription antidepressants. Walking also contributes to healthier sleep patterns which means you wake up feeling physically and mentally refreshed.
You do not need an expensive gym membership, specialized equipment or a significant time commitment in order to stay fit and maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. All you need is the desire to remain healthy and the willingness to put a few extra steps into your daily routine.