Summer is the perfect time to do one of the most underrated exercises of all…walking. Unlike the high impact aspect of running and weight training, walking offers amazing physical and mental benefits with minimal impact. Walking is an exercise that is accessible to almost everybody, welcomes all fitness levels, and requires no advance training.
For many of us, running is an activity we do “once we are fit”, but walking is something we do to “get fit and stay fit.” We are more motivated to stick with an exercise program that balances high intensity with activities that are pleasurable, moderately exerting, and energy enhancing.
Here’s more about the physical and mental benefits of walking, and how you can achieve maximum weight loss from an exercise that is fun, easy to do, and includes the outdoors.
Physical benefits of walking:
- Increases energy.
- Restorative to joints and muscles.
- Reduces chronic pain associated with autoimmune disorders and arthritis.
- Lowers cholesterol.
- Improves immune system (High impact exercise done over long periods of time can actually lower our ability to fight cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular illness).
Mental benefits of walking:
- Improves mood and self-esteem. By relaxing the mind, walking reduces anxiety, depression, and emotional tension.
- Improves mental clarity and focus.
- Outdoor walking offers a stimulating environment and enhances imagination and creativity.
- Enhances motivation level by offering a convenient, pleasurable option to high intensity workouts.
- Reduces boredom associated with rigid exercise routines that can only be done indoors.
- Promotes faster recovery from physical injury and exhaustion.
A few tips to get the maximum weight loss benefit from walking:
- Try to walk 30 minutes a day (you can spread it out throughout the day). Focus on distance covered, and gradually increase speed over time.
- Walk in a way that comes naturally to you. Avoid “race walking” as this strategy is less efficient and tends to burn fewer calories.
- Take shorter, quicker steps to enhance calorie burning and weight loss.
- Add quick bursts of exertion (jog for 30 seconds, or add jumping jacks every five minutes).
Walking outdoors is a magical way to exercise this summer. Grab your shoes and get out there.
Where is your favorite place to take a nice walk?
Image via Flickr