Walking. Some of us do a lot of it. Some of us do NONE. I know myself when I’m stuck at a desk nearly every day I have to remind myself to get up every once in a while and move around. When it comes to 5pm it can be extremely difficult to force yourself to head for a quick stroll (especially if you live on the West coast of Ireland and it’s absolutely BALTIC!).
We all know we need to do some physical activity and walking is often overlooked but it shouldn’t be. I’m going to go through just a few of the benefits a person gets from taking those few extra steps.
It’s free. Need I say more? Life can be expensive but just walking a bit more every day costs you NOTHING!! No direct debits leaving your account for that gym membership, no weekly Zumba class costs – NOTHING. Now that’s a bonus in itself.
Being inactive can take 3-5 years off your life. Yup. That’s scary. Research has actually shown that when we lack physical activity our chances of developing heart disease or stroke can increase by 25%-30% (1) Thankfully, we know that walking for 2.5 hours a week can actually reduce our risk of developing heart disease by approx. 30%. Phew.(2)
Moving more can lift our mood. Researchers have found that walking for just 12 minutes increases positive feelings. Just 12 minutes?? Wow. Physical activity has been associated with decreased levels of anxiety and stress for a long time but now we know you don’t have to do any mad workouts to achieve this – just a simple walk. (3) When we walk our creativity also improves! So next time you and your colleagues are having a brainstorm about the next BIG thing, go for a walk and watch the creativity explode! (4)
Walking increases the pressure we put on our muscles and joints, strengthening them. Having a sedentary job reduces how much we use our muscles so it’s important to move and strengthen them as often as we can. It can also help to improve balance and coordination. BOOM!
On top of all this, studies have also indicated that walking may trigger the anti-ageing process and help to repair old DNA cells. Say goodbye to that expensive facial cream! (5)
LET’S GO WALKING!!
1. Allender, S., Foster, C., Scarborough, P. and Rayner, M., 2007. The burden of physical activity-related ill health in the UK. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 61(4), pp.344-348.
2. Manson, J.E., Greenland, P., LaCroix, A.Z., Stefanick, M.L., Mouton, C.P., Oberman, A., Perri, M.G., Sheps, D.S., Pettinger, M.B. and Siscovick, D.S., 2002. Walking compared with vigorous exercise for the prevention of cardiovascular events in women. New England Journal of Medicine, 347(10), pp.716-725.
3. Miller, J.C. and Krizan, Z., 2016. Walking facilitates positive affect (even when expecting the opposite). Emotion, 16(5), p.775.
4. Oppezzo, M. and Schwartz, D.L., 2014. Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of experimental psychology: learning, memory, and cognition, 40(4), p.1142.
5. Jousilahti, P., Barengo, N., Antikainen, R., Borodulin, K. and Harald, K., 2017. Leisure time physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular death and an acute CVD event also among older adults.
Emma Brennan is a qualified Nutritionist and is a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN). Emma attained her qualification in Human Nutrition from Ulster University, Coleraine. Emma has a passion for all things nutrition and health related and her mission is to educate the public about their health and wellbeing through her blogs, videos and nutrition tips online and through the Good4U Nutrition Service provided to schools, sports clubs and businesses.