How to walk daily to reap long term health benefits

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“Walking is man’s best medicine.” — Hippocrates

Why walking is the best exercise 

Walking is a best way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 20 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Comparing other exercise, walking is easy to do and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.

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Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking is also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly, or who haven’t exercised in a long time.

“Walking an extra 25 minutes a day will burn 7 pounds of body fat per year if calories remains same”

What are health benefits of daily walking

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You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes.
  • Stronger bones and improved balance
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced body fat.

Walking and heart disease

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If you’ve been diagnosed with heart problems or recovering from a heart attack, walking is the best way to start getting active.

It’s also great at lowering the risk of developing heart disease, walking can help you make a change for the better.

It’s important that you consult a doctor before walking. But once you have the go ahead, you can build up gradually as your health improves and strengthen your heart muscles lower the cholesterol levels thus reducing further risk of heart attack. 

Walking and arthritis

Walking helps you protect the joints, knees and hips. Walking helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support these joints. Walking also relieves muscle stiffness and swelling in joints. Walking also provides benefits in arthritis by reducing pain. Walking 180 minutes  a week may even prevent arthritis. 

Benefits of walking to brain

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1. Walking lowers depression symptoms anxiety.

2. Walking releases feel good hormone endorphins which fight against all kinds of mental illness..

3. Walking promotes good sleep.

4. Walking increases blood flow to the brain thus promoting cells to function better and help in creativity and fighting against alzheimer. 

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Walking in nature has therapeutic power to our souls, it not only strengthens our immune systems but also our minds. It’s not only our body that benefits from walking in nature, but also our mind. It is evident that chemicals emitted by plants, known as phytoncides, help strengthen the immune systems .

How to inculcate daily walking in life

Strolling with friends.

Strolling with like minded friends who also want to reap the benefit of walking is a good way to enjoy walking long distances and have nice talk too. 

Walking with a dog.

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Walking dogs is a nice way to walk. You even can run with a dog for a few minutes to get the huge benefit of a sprint. 

Habit of morning walking.

Taking a 30 minute morning walk immediately after drinking water and coffee or tea is a good way to enjoy the morning. 

Go for a long weekend walk.

Going for a weekend long walk for 2 hour to a new place is a good way to enjoy a walk and explore new areas while enjoying the walk.

Use bad mood as motivation

If you don’t feel good about routine exercises, you need a change. Go for a walk. Even if you feel bored from the daily routine of work or exhausted, just walk outside the office for 30 minutes. It will boost your mood and help you finish your task faster.

Walk after dinner 

Walking after dinner is a good way to relax and help you digest food well. It will boost sleep and help overall health.

Walk to nearby shops 

Walking to a nearby shop is a good way to enjoy shopping and help you walk. 

What are safety tips for daily walking

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  • Always walk in areas on footpaths.
  • Wear a reflective vest if you walk in the evening or early morning hours.
  • Wear walking shoes with good heels and support.
  • Wear comfortable clothes as per weather.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburns on sunny days.

What shoes is good for walking

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Walking does not need equipment, the only thing is a good pair of shoes.  You can walk on tennis shoes however having specialised walking shoes is highly recommended because the wrong type of shoe can cause foot pain, blisters and injuries. 

Shoes should be comfortable, with good heel and arch supports. Take easy steps and preferably walk on grass rather then concrete to avoid injuries.

Some interesting facts about walking 

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“Walking was Steve Jobs’ favorite way of meeting in Apple. He enjoyed taking a walk  with key executives to find creative solutions .”

So walking is really good for those behind computers since it makes people more creative.

The Duke University study found  that a brisk 30-minute walk is as effective as antidepressant medication in relieving the symptoms of major depression.

Harvard study found  that walking for 180 minutes a week can cut the risk of heart attack  in women by 50%.

The speed of competitive walking is 2–2.5 times faster than that of ordinary walking. They walk approx. 10miles per hour.

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Mahatma Gandhi walked around 20 km every day from 1914 to 1948. He walked approximately 79,000 km, which is equivalent to circling the Earth twice for his campaigns. He walked 400 km 25 days, from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi at that time he was more than 65 years of age. He ate ascetic food and was only 110 pounds with 5 feet 5 inches. 

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Roman troops had to walk 36 Km in war situations. Their gear weighed upwards of 40 pounds. To add to that weight, troops carried a backpack, which contained rations.

Tools to measure your walking results.

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Walking at least 5000 steps per day is highly recommended since it can be finished in 30 minutes.  Any smart watch or phone apps can give you the steps walked. Try to walk 180,000 steps in a month. 

You can lose 2 pounds of fat within a month, if the calorie intake  does not  change.  But the biggest problem is when one walks or does exercise he feels hungry and tends to eat more which negates the weight loss goal.  

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So if you are walking for weight loss then you need to drink water when hungry and eat the food by measuring calories when you are really starving. 

Eating green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and cabbage will boost immunity and give necessary micronutrients. 

Walking should be one of the strategies to remain healthy but you should not rely on it completely. You should do many more activities like aerobics, cycling or swimming.  

Don’t walk too much 

Every person can walk according to his fitness level, health and stamina. If you are just starting to walk after a long time, start with short distances to build stamina.

Joint pain, foot pain and soreness. If you get these symptoms after walking then probably you are overdoing it. If you walk too much it can injure your legs that can disrupt all your walk schedule. 

Longer recovery time. If it takes longer time to recover is also a sign that you are walking too much.

Headaches and dehydration. This is definitely a problem if you are walking in a warm and humid environment.  Drink lemon water with salt if needed and don’t walk longer distances without proper hydration. 

Consistency is key

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There are times when you cannot walk. It doesn’t mean you have to forget everything and  indulge in unhealthy eating.

Consistency is key for success be it business, financial well being or health. Once you are healthy then don’t get complacent remember the sacrifices you made in order to get yourself fit. 

So maintaining a healthy weight after losing weight is also very important. Walking is the best way to burn extra calories which will help you indulge in your favourite chocolates occasionally.

By John Gurung

A former software developer who is now a blogging enthusiast. A true digital nomad.

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