The Health Benefits of Walking for 30 minutes a Day
The following information is provided for educational purposes only. Before making any changes please speak with your healthcare provider for individualized advice.
Walking is a simple form of exercise that you can enjoy at your own pace. It also has a number of health benefits! Exercise should be something you enjoy, and making a habit of it can make it easier to incorporate into your daily routine.
Bone Density and Bone Mass
Walking can help maintain bone density and has been linked to a decreased risk of hip fracture. Any weight-bearing exercise involves support from our bones and helps to keep them strong.
Fall Risk, Balance, Coordination, and Muscle Mass
Walking allows us to maintain strength and muscle mass as we age. It also helps us maintain mobility, as well as balance and coordination. All of these things help to decrease our risk of suffering a fall later in life.
Imagine the simple act of swinging our arm forward as we step forward with the opposite leg, touching down with our heel, standing on our foot as we shift our weight and maintain our balance, and later pushing off with our toes. When we walk, the muscles throughout our body fire in a coordinated fashion that helps promote normal neurological function as well as coordination and balance.
Heart Health and Blood Sugar Balance
Walking gets your circulation going and can help normalize blood pressure, especially when combined with deep belly breathing. It can also decrease your risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke, especially when combined with a heart-healthy diet.
Walking regularly can help normalize cholesterol, and balance blood sugar as well. Any muscle contraction helps get excess sugar out of the bloodstream. If you are diabetic, be sure to speak to a healthcare provider as you begin incorporating walking into your routine to ensure that your blood sugar does not get too low.
Lymphatic Drainage and Immune health
Our blood has an active pump – our heart. Our lymph, which is part of our body’s immune and detoxification system, has a different pump – our muscles. As we walk or practice deep belly breathing the contraction and release of our diaphragm, or our other muscles, helps to circulate our lymph. This helps our immune system function optimally, and aids our body in detoxification. Sweating is another way our body detoxifies.
Decreasing Stress and Promoting Mental Health
Walking, especially in nature, helps us to decrease our stress levels. Our nervous system evolved surrounded by the sounds and smells of the natural world. Being in nature can also increase our creativity and our ability to focus. Mindful walking, where we systematically bring our attention to our breathing, and then to each of our senses – what we see, hear, smell, feel and taste – can really help to bring our attention to the present moment, triggering a relaxation response.
Exercise can be a very effective way of managing our stress, promoting relaxation, releasing tension, and even boosting our mood. Walking with friends or family members also promotes social resilience by helping us to build and nourish supportive relationships.
There are many places where people can go walking (or snowshoeing) throughout the year in our community including the Kiwanis Way Waterfront Path and boardwalk, the PMC, the Mall, and various trails.
Where are your favourite places to go walking?Related to: balance . bone density . coordination . fall risk . immune health . lymphatic drainage . mental health . muscle mass . stress management . Walking