Research has shown numerous benefits with walking and moderate physical activity — it only takes 30 minutes a day.

Increasing our activity is a simple way to meet many of the goals we set for ourselves in improving how we feel and in the quality of our sleep. Walking has been encouraged by organizations like the American Heart Association and the Arthritis Foundation. Take a look at these benefits:

Walking improves our circulation. It decreases heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart.

Walking can strengthen our bones and stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis. In fact, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, study of post-menopausal women found that 30 minutes of walking each day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40 percent.

Walking lightens our mood. Research has shown that regular physical activity can have a positive effect on our brain chemistry. Even small time frames of activity (only 8 minutes) can reduce sadness, tension, stress, and anger. Walking also releases natural pain­killing endorphins to the body – another emotional benefit of exercise. It can also improve our ability to think creatively and to problem-solve.

Walking can lead to weight loss. A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped…especially when you combine walking with healthy eating that pays attention to portions / serving sizes.

Walking strengthens our muscles. It can increase our range of motion and tone leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk.

Walking improves sleep. The National Sleep Foundation noted that exercise may reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by shifting our circadian rhythms (body clock).

Walking supports our joints. The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. An activity like walking “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area.

Walking improves our breathing. When walking, our breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve not only our energy level, but our ability to heal.

Time to make some steps!

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© Christy M. Secor, 2015 – 2016. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, contact bouncebackproject.org/contact