Getting outside for a walk a day, even if it's a short walk,
will do wonders to help support your body
through the work it wants to do.
The benefits are manyfold – I mean name a system in the body, and you are sure to find that walking would support that system's function, nay I'd go so far as to say improve that system's work.
DIGESTIVE: As stress shuts down the digestive system, walking helps here. See, walking helps reduce stress; therefore you can better do that digestive bit your system needs to do! So by walking after a meal, you use up the sugars that are being released in your blood stream, and utilizing them right away means you are helping keep your blood sugars balanced. Anxiety and stress are more pronounced when your blood sugars aren't balanced.
INTESTINAL: Reduces constipation. Supports peristalsis! Helps keep you regular!
IMMUNE/LYMPHATIC: Walking engages the lymphatic system and assists your body in doing its house-cleaning and detoxification work. Walking can then help your body move those toxins out. Fresh air outside is one of the best immunity system builders there is.
GLANDULAR/ENDOCRINE: Gentle walking is also good exercise that will not contribute to increasing stress on your system, in fact it helps dissolve it and use up the nutrients in your body that are part of the load on your adrenals. Therefore, walking reduces stress. Which helps alleviate anxiety too and support your adrenals. Which just helps everything else. And your thyroid? Why yes, it benefits from this gentle form of exercise too, by boosting thyroid function.
NERVOUS: A change of scenery can do good things to help bolster moods, as endorphins are released during exercise and these have been shown to provide relief from low moods. These endorphins act by diminishing your perception of pain as well. What's not to love? If that's not enough to convince you, good exercise like walking has been shown to contribute to improved sleeping; it also shows signs of slowing mental decline and can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's.
REPRODUCTIVE: Exercise like walking helps reduce the risk of certain hormone-related cancers like breast cancer. As all of our systems inter-relate, physical activity plays an important influencing role on our fertility too.
STRUCTURAL: Regular physical activity is important in maintaining healthy bones, helping reduce the risk of bone fractures. So walk to help keep osteoporosis and osteopenia at bay, walk to support your joints as the walking motion helps to keep them well lubricated and in good working condition. This gentle form of exercise can be of tremendous support to someone with arthritis.
CIRCULATORY/CARDIOVASCULAR: Walking has been shown to help lower blood pressure. It helps increase energy levels by providing more oxygen to the blood and muscles, and is heart-protective. Walking and exercise improve circulation and can help prevent strokes.
RESPIRATORY: Daily walking has been shown to benefit those with chronic lung diseases like COPD. Walking is a gentle enough exercise that if done at a leisurely pace (consult your doctor first!), can help improve the health and vitality of your lungs.
URINARY: Walking helps move fluids that can accumulate in your veins in your legs during sedentary periods. If you tend to sit all day, that excess fluid can mean you'll be visiting the loo more often at night, just to move those fluids out. How to help? Take a walk or three during the day, the muscles that contract in the legs during the walking motion will help flush them out, at a more reasonable hour.
That's not all. Daily walks have been linked to a longer life, even adding 7 years to your lifespan! It might be obvious, but walking can be of good support to help strengthen muscles and can lead to weight loss. We went over the idea that exercise helps use up the sugars released in the bloodstream, and so by ensuring a good walk a day, you'll be reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
Another way to spell it out:
Walking helps improve your body's
control of blood glucose.
It helps to uptake excess blood glucose circulating in your veins. Better blood sugar regulation is what you want in order to keep chronic inflammation and all diseases associated with inflammation at bay. (That's almost every slow-moving chronic disease under the sun, friend.)
If your exercise takes you outside, then double bonus for you: you'll be soaking up some rays and enhancing your body's ability to manufacture the all-important vitamin D! This vitamin is essential to bone health and maintenance, thyroid and endocrine function and can help prevent cancer. Of course it's pretty important to immune health and is also noted to help reduce your risk of diabetes and hypertension.
Get outside. A gingerly pace is good. A slower pace works too. You set the tone.
Grab a coworker and go for a good jaunt during your lunch break. Have walking meetings! Walk to your next appointment, if it's within reasonable distance.
Take your sweetheart for a walk around the block after dinner at night. (Geez I could also delve into the importance of connecting with loved ones – do you see how walking can facilitate that?) Family outings! Joining a walking group might get you motivated. If the weather isn't cooperating, you may want to do a few laps at the mall every morning. You could meet a friend for a few laps before you go for a cup of tea to visit.
Head outside and find some new hiking trails on the weekend. Walk through a new neighbourhood, discover your city. Head out to spot the northern lights if it's dark. Get a dog. Borrow the neighbour's dog. Go for the aromatherapy at different times of the season, to see and smell what's in bloom.
Why I love it:
No special equipment save maybe shoes. It's inexpensive. The tools are at the ready, and the venue can change or remain the same. It's whatever will work for you. YOU'RE THE BOSS.
Walking is good for your brain and your heart. It's good to reduce stress and boost mood. It revs up the immune function. It's good for you, it's good for me. Get grooving my friend.