Only a very small fraction of people run regularly – perhaps 10 percent at most.
The vast majority of individuals, however, walk every day, with many taking thousands of steps.
But is this pastime actually good for us? Or is the science bunk?
Let’s take a look.
1. It Helps You Relax At Work
Working can feel stressful. You have so many projects, targets, and deadlines to meet, it can be overwhelming. Add a splash of office politics to the mix, and it’s enough to send you over the edge.
Evidence, however, suggests that walking could be a solution to help more people cope at work.
Research from the Economic and Social Research Council, for instance, has found that simply walking in the park at lunchtime is enough to reset our body’s stress response and make us feel better.
The trick here is to find an open, green space. Walking down a busy street probably won’t work. In fact, attorneys who represent injured pedestrians know the risks of city walks all too well.
2. It Improves Concentration
Here’s another weird fact about walking: it also helps to improve concentration.
It turns out that walking is a tool that nature uses to soothe us naturally. Getting out into nature and observing real beauty is able to enchant us at a fundamental level, reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels.
3. It Enhances Creativity
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take a pill to make yourself more creative?
Well, walking might not be a pill, but it has the same effect. It turns out that going for a stroll in the country helps to improve a variety of brain states related to creativity, including cognition, memory, and recovery.
Walking may also directly affect our creative potential by exposing us to a range of new sights and sounds. A constantly changing environment may provide the raw material that our brains can use for creative endeavors.
4. It Reduces Depression
If you feel a depressed mood coming over you, one of the best solutions might be to simply go for a walk.
The reason walking is good for depression is the same as other exercises. The exercise appears to switch on feel-good chemistry in the brain, enhancing how you feel tremendously, often in as little as fifteen minutes.
Walking gives you a chance to get out of your current environment and explore the local area. You can also combine it with socializing – another factor that seems to correlate highly with depression risk. You could go for a walk with a friend, have a long chat, and generally enjoy each other’s company.
5. Improved Overall Physical Health
Just because walking is low impact doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good workout. Some benefits you may experience include reduced risk of heart attack or stroke, stronger bones and balance, increased muscle mass, stronger heart and lungs and of course, walking can help you control your weight.
As we get older, our bodies naturally change. Walking is an easy and effective way to combat what mother nature is throwing at us.
There are, of course, some downsides to walking. Firstly, it is not accessible to everyone and some people simply cannot walk due to prior existing health problems, or plain old bad knees like me.
Walking outdoors can also be dangerous. Walking down busy city streets puts you at a much higher risk of an accident. Plus, there are the pollution levels. Breathing in diesel fumes won’t support your health.
Walking at night or in deserted places though great for really getting away from everything and everyone has its dangers too. Especially for women. Always be aware of your surroundings and if you must have earbuds in place, keep the volume low and use your eyes to continuously monitor what is going on around you.
Overall, therefore, the message is to get walking, but do it in safe and low-pollution areas. And always be sure to check with your doctor if starting a new fitness program.