No matter what I have going on in my life or in my day, I have always tried to take a quick stroll. Sometimes I can afford longer and will walk more, but as a general rule, I try to walk at least 2 miles per day on top of everything else I do. I learned this lesson from my father, a physiologist, who knows well the benefit of a body in motion. He has walked 2 miles a day for the better part of thirty years and at 78, he is benefiting both physically and mentally from doing this. It is a habit well worth cultivating in your life and one that just grows in benefits as you age.
Here are just some of the reasons why I take a daily walk and you should too:
Mental clarity: I feel like I am pretty clear headed, however, after my walk each day, I realize how great a quick stroll is for taking mental clarity to the next level. There is something about being outdoors, in the fresh air, that just frees the mind. I listen to music when I walk, and this is a nice change up from my workday. I can be undistracted, just enjoying the movement of my body and this is also so helpful for my mind. I tend to be quite a multitasker, and this can cause sensory overload sometimes. Walking helps me untangle the wires and recenter.
Heart health: My father taught medical students for years all about the heart and led by example in the home when it came to healthy living. Walking daily is a phenomenal way to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It is an excellent cardio exercise and can also help keep cholesterol levels in check. The American Stroke Association notes that a thirty-minute walk daily can prevent and control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke by up to 27 percent.
Vitamin D: Most people are deficient in vitamin D and making it a habit to walk outdoors daily can help replenish depleted stores of this essential vitamin. Just thirty minutes in the outdoors will help boost your D levels and protect your immune system.
Mood lifter: If I am in a foul mood, I immediately turn to walking for relief. There is nothing that works better to erase negativity than a brisk walk. I may start my walk out in a grumpy state but by the time I am finished, the endorphins have done their thing, and I am good to go.
Weight management: Walking has always been a great way for me to keep extra pounds at bay. I struggle with thyroid issues and walking helps to keep my hormones regulated and extra weight at bay. For a point of reference, you will burn 75 calories by simply walking at 2mph for thirty minutes. If you turn up your speed to 3mph, you can burn 99 calories and 4mph burns 150 calories.
Diabetes: I had gestational diabetes with my first child which increases my risk of type 2 diabetes significantly. Knowing this makes walking all that much more important to me. Walking daily slashes your risk of type 2 diabetes by about 60 percent. Also, it reduces your risk of colon and breast cancer by 20 percent.
Energy: I never feel more alive than after my walk. Scheduling my walk midday or even at the end of the day is a great way to have enough energy to carry me through. A brisk walk will is an amazing natural energizer because it boosts circulation and increases the oxygen supply to all parts of your body. This makes you feel alive, alert and ready to take on anything!
Ready for a walk? If you don’t like to walk alone, gather up a walking buddy or start a walking club at work or in your neighborhood. It’s great to have accountability and motivation from friends!