The Center for Disease Control recommends taking 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health. This is the equivalent of about five miles, but the average American only takes about 3,000 to 4,000 steps or 1.5 to 2 miles per day with a moderately active lifestyle. The best and simplest way to increase your daily steps is by taking a dedicated walk each day. Here, we break down five reasons why taking a daily walk can improve your health and positively impact your life.
It Improves Muscle Strength
Because walking activates nearly your entire muscular system, it is a great way to increase your muscle tone and overall strength. Your legs engage as you balance and walk up or down an incline. Your core, which includes your abdomen, side body, and lower back, works to stabilize you with each step. If you pump your arms while walking, your biceps and triceps can even strengthen through this small isometric movement. Overall, this strength helps increase your range of motion and takes the pressure off your joints.
It Will Help You Sleep Better at Night
Moderate aerobic exercise such as walking increases your body’s ability to produce slow-wave sleep. This is the deep stage of sleep that allows the body and mind to recover and reduce stress. The time of day that you exercise may have a small effect on your body’s ability to transition to sleep. Be mindful of this and avoid workouts before bedtime if your body is sensitive to this. Because exercise releases endorphins and raises your core body temperature, it cues a more wakeful state for 30 to 90 minutes.
It Improves Your Mood
Have you ever had a bad day and decided to take a walk to clear your head? While the change of scenery probably helped, taking a walk to improve your mood has scientific backing as well. Walking releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers and mood enhancers. It can also boost energy levels, which may be low if you are in a bad mood. Your body circulates oxygen faster, along with releasing cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are hormones that regulate energy levels. This combination of energy and endorphins leaves you feeling more positive after your walk.
It Is a Low-Impact Way to Trim Your Waistline
Walking burns calories without placing a major strain on your joints through high-impact or high-intensity workouts. A 155-pound person will burn about 150 calories during a 30-minute walk, and this can increase with time or a quicker pace. Combining a daily walk with a healthy diet will create a calorie deficit, meaning your body will naturally burn slightly more calories than it consumes. Because walking does not place as much stress on joints as running, this is a great low-impact option for all ages and fitness levels.
It May Even Help You Live Longer
In a recent study, scientists found that adults who took 8,000 steps per day had a 51% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who took half that. Walking improves your overall physical and mental health, putting you in a better place to live a long and happy life. It is also important to note that even a small change can make a major impact. Just a 30-minute walk five times a week can lower your risk of heart disease, the top disease killer in the U.S., by 19%.
If daily exercise is not already part of your routine, consult with your doctor and start small. Even a brisk 30-minute walk is better than not taking one at all. From there, begin to add time and increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the exercise. Walking has multiple health benefits that can lower your risk of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Staying healthy even as you age can also lower your insurance premium as well.
To learn more about lowering your premium by maintaining good health, speak with your insurance agent today.