Walking is my thing. It always has been my thing and will be continue to be my thing until the day my legs fall off.
Seriously though, it is my obsession, my therapy, and the key to my wellness. While I used to be a runner who enjoyed doing races, I have since given it up for walking. Several years ago I was in a severe car accident and ever since then, I can’t run for even a few minutes without triggering a headache (unless it’s on a soft surface like sand).
Because it had been a big part of my life; I was a bit sad to stop running, but then my love affair with walking was renewed and I’ve never looked back.
Science is now showing that walking is actually much better for you than running, even for weight loss! Although this subject is still a hot debate, the research that praises walking checks out…at least in my experience. Here are my top 7 reasons why I adore walking.
Getting (and keeping!) slim
Let’s start with this one! Years ago I would’ve laughed at this…I mean, ‘AS IF’ (cue Alicia Silverstone voice) walking helps lose weight! This is what running and HIIT training is for! However, I have since discovered, it’s literally the best thing I have done to lose those last 5 pounds and keep it off. If I am consistent about my daily walks, I lose weight easily. However, it’s to be noted that when we walk, it’s not a leisurely stroll. It is face paced and definitely can break a sweat. Like when we walk, we WALK.
It’s easy to keep consistent
When it comes to physical and mental health, it’s not about what you do that makes a difference, it’s about how often you do it. Consistency is key. Walking for 30 minutes is much easier than going to the gym every day. My husband and I walk 10,000 steps (6.5 kms) before breakfast almost every day and when we have the evening free, we do it again. We usually walk 1-2.5 hrs a day. We love tracking our steps and monitoring our weekly/monthly averages in our Apple health app. It keeps us motivated to continue and to increase our averages.
In comparison to walking, long distance running is stressful on your body. Unless you are on a leafy trail or a soft beach, it’s hard on your joints. The intensity of exertion and high impact of pounding concrete releases stress hormones, including cortisol. Walking does not do this…in fact, it does the opposite by reducing cortisol and making your body feel less stressed.
I strongly believe that a stressed mind and body are what cause sickness, premature aging, and dis-ease. Keeping my cortisol levels low in diet, exercise, and mental health are priority for me.
Better mental health
This is the biggest reason I love walking. I swear it’s the most life changing activity you can do! Whether I’m letting my mind wander, meditating, praying, or talking with my man…it’s a practise that has brought so much healing.
One of my favourite herbalists (@organic_olivia on IG – do yourself a favour and follow her!) shared recently how Huberman, a neuroscience professor, had a study showing that forward movement (such as walking) can suppress the brain’s fear response, which makes us brave and confrontational. This forward motion also triggers the release of dopamine, which helps us experience less anxiety.
He explained that this is because of the ‘lateral eye movements’ (naturally moving from side to side as we observe the environment around us) while we’re actively moving our bodies forward. In my opinion, nothing calms anxiety more than the meditation of walking.
Better digestion (especially after a meal!)
This is a big benefit I have noticed! We love walking AFTER dinner, because we noticed we always felt better. I started researching why that might be and discovered that it actually helps your meal digest easier. I swear it also helps me maintain goal weight. Instead of sitting around after a dinner, the gentle movement keeps your metabolism on its toes. Not time to be lazy yet!
It also reduces cravings, which I have also found to be true. There’s a study that stated that just 15 minutes of walking after dinner significantly reduced blood sugar levels, which is another great wellness hack.
Gently enhances the detoxing of the lymphatic system
I feel like everyone is talking about lymph these days (and for good reason)! The lymphatic system is responsible to help rid the body of toxins, waste, extra water/bloat and other unwanted materials. It helps protect us from infections and disease. A healthy lymphatic system is a healthy body!
Each step acts like a gentle, natural pump to keep the lymph flowing effectively through our body. Swing your arms and massage your diaphragm with some deep belly breaths and you’re tripling the health benefits!
Walking with my partner is the ultimate. We talk about life and our dreams, or just walk in silence holding hands. My husband lives a fast-paced lifestyle with his work, so to be able to have “one or two date walks” a day is a highlight.
Whether it’s a partner or a friend, walking has always been one of my preferred ways to catch up with people. I like to multi-task…so getting exercise, fresh air, and time with a friend is the ultimate combo. If I’m walking alone, I also love a good podcast or meditation.
If you can do your walk on a beach or grassy park, do it barefoot to experience the benefits of earthing (also called grounding). I promise you will feel a MAJOR difference. Walking barefoot on the earth reduces inflammation, decreases stress and anxiety, improves circulation, increases energy, and even helps you sleep better. Remember how it felt as a kid to run around in the grass or sit on the ground and don’t tell me you didn’t feel how amazing that was! Read this study to learn more about it. Grounding will change your life! Also this video about walking vs. running is helpful as well.
What is your favourite way to move your body? What activity do you engage in when you feel tired or anxious?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, these are my opinions based on my own experience; as well as research from studies I have found.
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