It’s funny how much we love spending to make us healthier. We’re always on the lookout for foods to eat, supplements to take, and pills to do this, that, and the other.
And all of those things can be extremely helpful in making you healthy. But imagine there was one food or supplement that had the ability to promote a healthy heart, control blood sugar, increase bone density and joint strength, strengthen muscles, relieve back pain, reduce stress, promote better sleep, and potentially slow the onset of dementia.
Would you buy it? Probably not, because most people don’t even do it for free. What’s worse is if you are not doing it, your other efforts (and expenses) probably aren’t working to their full potential.
What is this magical medicine? It’s just over there in the corner. Get up and go take a look. You’re back and didn’t see anything? That’s because the medicine is walking.
Yep. Walking. You’ve been doing it for pretty much your entire life, although you’ve likely done a lot less of it in recent decades. No big deal, you surely haven’t forgotten how. Even better, the benefits can kick in by including it into your daily routine.
Some of the scientifically-backed benefits of walking include:
- A healthier heart (lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides/cholesterol, reduced risk of coronary episodes).
- Better blood sugar control
- Stronger bones and joints
- Stronger muscles
- Better brain health (lowers cortisol, improves memory, may deal onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia, better mood)
- Relieves lower back pain
- May improve eyesight and lower the risk for glaucoma
- Better digestion
Moving helps your health, there’s no doubt about it. But how do you include it into your day? There are some who contend there is a magic number of 10,000 steps that brings on benefits. And while walking as much as possible is recommended, the best thing to do is just get started. Then doing more. Then picking up the intensity.
Benefits can start-up in as little as six minutes of consistent walking at a moderate pace. Once you get up to 20, 30, and 40-minute sessions, the benefits are even further. Some suggest that in excess of 20 minutes, your body has used up stored glycogen and leads to a drop in insulin, meaning you’re fueling movement with fat.
In that time frame, you’re also supplying oxygenated blood throughout your entire body, helping your cardiovascular and immune systems.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Start in small 10-minutes increments if you can. As that gets easier, keep adding 5-10 minutes per week. Once you’ve hit 40 minutes to an hour per day, try going a little faster.
Walking can make all your other health efforts more effective and serve as the foundation for the prevention of a number of illnesses.