Taking 30 minutes out of every day of your busy schedule to exercise can often seem impossible. However, break down your day and consider what else absorbs 30 minutes of your time. Do you browse social media, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, or spend time aimlessly scrolling through the internet? Which one of these activities could be traded for a simple, brisk walk around the neighboorhood?
Walking is the single most effective means of exercise for someone who lives a sedentary life. You don’t have to be a fitness guru to strap on your tennis shoes and get outdoors. Best of all, it is totally free and doesn’t require any equipment or special training. Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you spend 30 minutes walking each day.
You may think that you have to do high-intensity exercises at the gym on various free weight machines to refine and tone your muscles. Actually, just walking can increase muscle mass and help firm up your lower body. Once you have adjusted to the daily cardio workout, try modifying your route so that you go up hills or stairs to continue to increase the challenge of your exercise.
Strengthen joints and bones
Because walking is an impact exercise, it can help strengthen bones and joints and prevent deterioration that comes with age. Unlike other weight-bearing exercises such as running, it does not have any negative impact on your bones and can even prevent inflammation and stiffness, rather than cause it.
Increase lung capacity
Walking at an exercise pace is slightly faster than a leisurely stroll and should increase your heart rate, get blood pumping, and yes, encourage your lungs to work harder. Physical exertion will force out more carbon dioxide from your body and bring in more oxygen; this process improves lung capacity and makes it easier for you to perform various activities.
A group of German researchers in a study on Gastrointestinal Liver Disease, discovered that walking can actually help improve digestion by speeding up the processing of food through the digestive tract. Following a meal, wait about 20 minutes and then take a short stroll around the neighborhood. Contrary to exercise-walking, this does not have to be a grueling pace and is simply to help encourage the digestion process. Researchers also indicated that this could help with constipation and ease of movements.
Along with guided meditation and yoga, relaxed walking is an excellent way to unwind from the stresses of the day and relieve pent-up muscle tension. This can warm up your muscles and help prevent injury from overstretching. Be sure to swing your arms and take long strides for the full effect.
Because walking is a form of exercise, it releases positive endorphins that can improve your mood and encourage an optimistic outlook. This is also due to sun exposure, as vitamin D has been shown to increase enthusiasm and positive thinking.
Lower back pain relief
Gentle walking can bring great relief to those who are struggling with chronic lower back pain. High-impact exercises can make the pain worse and potentially cause permanent damage. Walking, however, allows you to get an adequate amount of physical activity while stretching out the lower back and improving blood circulation around the spine.
There are a few well-known methods for preventing insomnia such as staying off of your phone in bed, drinking chamomile tea, and listening to white noise. Walking is often excluded from the list but is actually an extremely effective tool to improve sleep quality. Taking a stroll right before bed can increase your body’s levels of melatonin and help you have a deep nights sleep.
Tips for walking more
Start a walking group: Invite friends to go walking with you to help keep you accountable and make your exercise fun.
Go walking on your lunch break: Instead of sitting around in the breakroom, try going for a walking lunch. This will allow you to get some fresh air and sunshine in the middle of your workday, helping you return to work with a positive attitude and renewed enthusiasm.
Walk to the grocery store: If you live within a few miles of any of your errands, try walking instead of driving or taking public transportation.