Walk More: Feel Better, Smile More, Strengthen Your Immune System
Walking seems to be good to be true. But the research into the benefits of walking are in – walking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Any walk of any duration at any pace is good for you. Fresh air. Weight-bearing exercise. A break from digital devices. Muscle strengthening. Immune system stimulation. Community. A much-needed break. This is just a quick run-down of what walking can and will do for you. Most of us spend our days sitting in front of computers, sitting in cars, and sitting down in the evenings. Simply put, we don’t move our bodies as much as we should.
You know that exercise is key to your mental health, immune system health, and physical health. And we know how challenging it can be to fit in a work-out in a packed schedule. This is exactly why we want you to walk. You don’t need any fancy equipment. You don’t need to get in your car and go anywhere. You don’t need to pay any membership fees. You don’t need to follow a class schedule. You can do this alone or with a friend. You can literally walk anywhere at any time. So, let’s get started and make this the month where you start a walking routine.
HOW TO START A WALKING ROUTINE
The best way to start a walking routine is with a flexible schedule and an open mind. Now that you’ve decided to start walking regularly, it’s important that you remember that there will be days when you can’t walk. Days when your schedule is too packed, the weather is downright awful, or you simply aren’t up for a walk. This is okay. We don’t want you to be tied to a rigid walking schedule. Rather, our goal is that walking becomes part of your life as a regular good-for-you habit. Some days might walk for only 15 minutes. But other days you might go out for an afternoon of walking and chatting with a good friend. If you’re in a new city or area, you might use walking to explore the area. Essentially, we want walking to become a normal part of your life. If you have an existing health condition, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a walking routine. Chances are extremely high that your doctor will encourage you to walk. To start a walking routine, consider these tips:
- Start slow: you want walking to be enjoyable. You don’t need to walk at pace that leaves you breathless. Walk at a pace that allows you to easily carry on a conversation and that you feel you could keep up for a while.
- Be aware of time and distance: it’s tempting to set lofty walking goals and to increase your time and distance with each daily walk. This can backfire and result in injury or in making walking a stressful activity. Just put on your shoes, open the front door, and walk – walk at a pace and for a distance that feels right for that day.
- Get a friend: it’s always easier to develop a new routine with a friend. Plan to meet a friend at a coffee shop that is in easy walking distance. Meet up with a neighbor in the evening for an after-supper walk. Or join a local walking group or club.
- Footwear: while you don’t need any special equipment to walk, your footwear does matter. Pay attention to how your feet, knees, hip, and back feel before, during, and after your walk. If you’re feeling any aches or discomfort, take a look at your footwear. Your shoes might be worn down and putting you at risk for injury.
- Be adventurous: you can do more than walk around your neighborhood. Maybe you have a nearby park, hiking trails, or paved path that is away from the roadway. The great thing about walking is that you can do it anywhere. Look for new ways to add walking into your life – you never know what you’ll discover.
THE BENEFITS OF WALKING
As we mentioned above, walking has extensive benefits for your physical health, mental health, and immune system health. It is one of the best things you can do for a healthier and happier life.
- Smile more: yes, walking does lift your mood and make you feel happier. Taking a walk lets you get away from your daily stressors, clear your mind, and simply relax. You might find you get to a point where you mind is completely clear and you’re not thinking of to do lists, the plans for tomorrow, or you work meeting.
- Build muscles: walking is a weight-bearing exercise that requires you to support your entire body. Yes, your legs are moving your forward, but your core is working to support your upper body, and your arms are swinging.
- Increase your cardiovascular health: a regular even-paced walk at a sustainable pace is ideal for your heart health. Your heart is a muscle and it needs the same care and attention you give to your abs and biceps.
- Sleep better: recent research shows that a regular walking routine helps you sleep better. As an extra bonus, this improved sleep has huge benefits for your immune system health.
- Immune system boost: regular exercise is critical to your immune system health. The stronger your immune system, the better able you are to withstand colds, flus, viruses, and disease. Just 20 minutes of walking a day gives your immune system the boost it needs to stay healthy and ready to protect you.
- Ease joint pain: it sounds counter-intuitive, but walking is great for alleviating joint pain. Walking supports your joints by strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around your knees, ankles, hips, and lower back. As well the exercise helps lubricate your joints, preventing them from becoming stiff and sore.
Tell us how you’re making walking part of your daily routine. Post a comment on the AHCC Research Facebook page about your favorite walking route or tell us how walking has improved your immune system, physical, and mental health. Remember, we’re all in this together. We want you to reap the rewards of a strong immune system. Walk. Take your AHCC. Get outside. Move more. Feel better.