Walk Your Way to Health
by MedPlus Team, June 29, 2016
Walking, particularly brisk walking has come a long way in being recognized as one of the important health care regimens for everyone, particularly for grown adults. Walking is proven to be one of the best and easiest tools available to preserve and maintain health available to mankind today.
Brisk walking, essentially walking at a speed that’s just short of a run, causing sweating and increasing the heart rate to around 140’s pumps up your heart, circulating more blood and oxygen to your muscles and your organs, including the brain. Walks help you clear your head, pace your thoughts and calm you down. Experts suggest that brisk walking for 30 minutes can help you burn 150 to 200 calories based on your current exercise capacity and body weight. To extract maximum benefits from walking, it is suggested to walk for 30 minutes or more for at least 5 days a week.
Cuts down risk of heart problems:
People who indulge in regular brisk walking are less prone to stroke and other cardiovascular problems. According to a study by the Harvard Medical School, walking for just 2.5 hours a week, which is 21 minutes a day can cut the risk of Ischemic heart disease by 30%.
Brisk walking increases the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering the levels of LDL(bad) cholesterol. The Stroke Association says that a brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.
Walking brings down the risk of weight gain and the consequent problems. A study by the University of Utah in 2014 has concluded that every minute of brisk walking could lower the risk of obesity by 5% in women. Similar studies conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that walking could reduce the effects of obesity-promoting genes by half.
Reduces high BP:
Hypertension or high BP is a common problem, particularly among older adults. Also called the silent killer, blood pressure, if not controlled, can lead to numerous problems like stroke, heart attacks, and renal failure and can even be fatal. Walking most certainly helps lower your blood pressure. Researchers from Arizona State University found that even 10-minute walks every day are an effective way to lower your blood pressure.
Helps prevent the onset of diabetes:
According to the American Diabetes Association, walking is a great way to curb diabetes. James O.Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Denver writes that a modest change in one’s schedule like making time for walking can make a significant change in the life of a type 2 diabetes patient, reducing overall healthcare costs. A regular walking habit slashes the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 60 percent.
Boosts your memory and immunity:
According to a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, a moderately-paced walk for about 30 to 45 minutes daily can increase the number of immune system cells in your body and over a period of time can have a really remarkable effect on your body’s ability to fight disease.
Helps overcome the habit of binge eating:
Walking is one of the best ways to kick your stress eating habits. Experts believe that stress eating is more often a symptom of an emotional or psychological problem. Walking releases endorphin into your system and reverses the cortisol levels in your body, helping you curb stress eating.
Improves your breathing:
When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through the bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and ability to heal.
Older people who walk six miles or more per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as the year’s pass. A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who walked less.
Boosts vitamin D levels:
Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin is vital for the overall health of the individual. We owe it all to sun rays as they help manufacture Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can affect bone health and the immune system. Walking is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors while getting your Vitamin D fix.
Helps your mood:
It is true that exercise boosts your mood. Studies also show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety. So for positive mental health, walking is an absolute must.
Supports your joints:
The majority of joint cartilage in our body has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from the synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. The impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area. If you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.