Over 2000 years ago, walking was heralded as ‘a man’s best medicine’ by the Greek physician Hippocrates. In the intervening years, nothing has changed.
As well as being a great way to get some fresh air and explore our surroundings, walking has a number of benefits for our health and wellbeing. Whether it be a quick stroll or a long scenic hike, with the help of the experts at Shakti Himalaya, here’s 7 IDEAL ways walking can work wonders for your health.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get active and improve your general fitness levels. Not only is it a form of exercise that is ideal for all age groups, but a quick ten-minute stroll every day can lower your blood pressure, manage joint and muscular pain, make your bones stronger and reduce body fat. By incorporating regular walking into your routine, you are also at lesser risk of developing cardiovascular disease and major health problems such as type 2 diabetes.
LOWERS YOUR STRESS LEVELS
As well as benefiting your physical health, walking can also help your mental wellbeing. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, walking releases endorphins in your brain which helps to improve your overall mood. Focusing on your surroundings as you walk can also help you feel more present and therefore, relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety, channelling a little mindfulness in the process.
Needless to say, walking is a far more environmentally friendly way to travel than any method using an engine. As in, it has net-zero impact. And that’s what we’re seeking, right? What’s more, by not burning all that fuel, you won’t be burning a hole in your pocket, either. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Actually, don’t do that; I thought we were trying to be greener here?
SPARKS THE IMAGINATION
Walking is a great way to give your imagination a workout, too. Research shows that taking time out of your busy day to walk can stimulate creative thinking. When you walk, new senses and perceptions are engaged; this could simply be by observing what’s going on around you or actively searching for hidden places you’ve never been to before. Whatever it is, pay attention to your surroundings – truly, pay attention – and you might just unlock some hidden inspiration.
HELPS YOU TO SLEEP
Whilst nodding off quickly may be easy for some, most of us struggle with sleep at some point in our lives, with 16 million British adults saying they suffer from insomnia. A post-meal stroll will not only help to keep blood sugar levels under control, but it’ll also help promote production of the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. So, next time you’re struggling to doze off, give it a go. Better still, work an evening walk into your daily routine.
FLEX YOUR FLEXIBILITY
As we get older, we lose some of our flexibility and balance that, at a younger age, we seem to take for granted. Walking, as a low impact exercise, builds on your lower body strength, which is vital for maintaining balance. It also keeps up the flexibility of your joints by stretching your hip flexors, calf muscles, arms and shoulders. This full range of motion maintains your whole body’s strength and health.
IMPROVES YOUR MEMORY
As well as being a natural mood booster, going for a walk is great for getting out of a cognitive haze and working your brain’s memory function. Indeed, studies have shown that walking appears to boost the size of the hippocampus; the part of the brain that promotes learning new information and verbal memory. As you embark on (and remember) new walking routes, your brain works to file them away, aiding memory further. Go get it!