According to health experts, most people walk between 2,000 and 5,000 steps a day. This is less than half of the recommended amount of 10,000 steps a day, and it's leading to rises in everything from obesity to diabetes.
But what if you aren't quite ready to get off the couch? Or what if you're looking for more specifics about the ways that walking can help your health? If you're curious to know how 10,000 steps will really affect you, here are just seven of the benefits that you'll enjoy if you start incorporating daily walks into your life.
7. Weight Loss
Walking is one of the easiest ways to shed a few inches from your waistline. It requires no special tools or exercise equipment, and your walking routine can be adjusted with a variety of speeds, durations and distances to accommodate your personal fitness regimen. Use an online calorie calculator to figure out the exact amount of fat that you're burning with 10,000 steps a day. Your rate will depend on things like age, gender, incline and walking speed, and you can fiddle with the figures to create specific weight loss goals.
6. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
This is especially useful for people with diabetes. Walking is a form of exercise that will use the glucose in your body as an energy source, so it's a natural way of lowering your blood sugar and improving your A1C test results. You don't even need to worry about speed! A leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood will burn glucose just as efficiently as a power walk, so as long as you get your 10,000 steps in, don't worry about taking it slow. Go at your own pace and reap the rewards of a healthier lifestyle.
5. Disease Prevention
Daily walks can prevent medical maladies of all types. For example, studies have shown that walking can reduce the risk of strokes in senior citizens by as much as one-third. Other studies suggest that walking can prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or increase the lifespans of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). No matter what medical issues you're struggling with or hoping not to develop, walking can be a valuable tool in combating them, so hop on the treadmill and start moving!
4. Pain Relief
Do you suffer from aches and pains in your joints? Do you have arthritis creeping through your bones? Walking can lessen these discomforts by circulating blood and oxygen throughout your body. Movement in general is also a time-honored way to loosen your limbs, relax your muscles and relieve stiffness. The next time that you feel something seizing up or growing swollen, let a walk lessen your pain.
3. Deeper Sleep
Exercise is a great remedy for insomnia, but most people are under the impression that you have to sweat through an aerobic video to tire yourself out. This isn't true at all! Research has proven that a simple one-hour walk can improve both the quantity and quality of a person's rest. If you're willing to kick it up a notch and walk for several hours to get your 10,000 steps, you'll improve your ZZZs with every mile. Who needs sleeping pills when you can put yourself into a peaceful slumber with the power of your own two feet?
2. Bone and Joint Health
Walking is good for all parts of your skeletal structure. In addition to straightening your bones and lowering your risk of osteoporosis, it also helps with fluid circulation to your joints. It's a little-known fact that most of the joints in the body receive no blood directly; they rely on the cartilage to supply them with blood from everyday circulation. If you want to nourish your joints, you'll need to get moving and start circulating.
1. Mood Boosts
Not only is walking good for your body, but it's also extremely beneficial to your brain. You might have heard of endorphins like serotonin and dopamine that get released into your body through exercise, but did you know that these endorphins can do everything from lower your blood pressure to improve your cognitive function? They aren't just "feel good" hormones; they have tangible, positive effects on your physical body that translate to happiness in the psychological sphere. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) even says that walking can lessen the symptoms of mood disorders! If you're looking for a natural way to boost your mood, go outside and take a walk.
These are just a few benefits of regular walks. While 10,000 steps a day is a popular goal, it's important to understand that any amount of walking is better than none, so don't get discouraged if you need to take things more slowly or work your way up. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step!
This post was written by Andrew of Happy Ranker, a semi-retired software engineer turned full-time health freak and part time code monkey.
SOURCES: https://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/07/03/walking-10000-steps-daily.aspx http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/walking/wow-of-walking.php https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25931456