15 Benefits of Walking, According to Science

According to science, walking burns calories, strengthens the heart, and improves memory. Discover other benefits of walking.
15 Benefits of Walking, According to Science

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 06 April, 2023

Tying your shoelaces and going for a walk could be considered one of the cheapest exercises that brings with it countless important health benefits. It’s not surprising that after a medical check-up, many patients are told to walk frequently. A scientific report highlights that when compared to other sports, walking has the lowest injury rate. Similarly, another study emphasizes that in neighborhoods whose spaces are more walkable, residents have less risk of cardiovascular disease. Keep reading to discover more about the benefits of walking.

The benefits of walking are backed by science

Incorporating walks into your exercise routine or going for a walk each morning can give your body good reasons not to stop. We’ll show you the most important benefits of going for a walk.

1. Lowers blood sugar

After eating, consider having a short walk as a routine. Walking after meals could lower blood sugar.

An ongoing study revealed that 3 15-minute sessions or a 15-minute walk after breakfast, lunch, and dinner improves blood glucose levels more than a 45-minute brisk walk a day. However, more conclusive research is still needed to support the theory.

Several studies compiled by Harvard Medical School suggest that a 15-minute walk could reduce the craving for chocolate or sugary snacks in stressful situations. In addition, it was observed that brisk walking for an hour counteracts the tendency toward obesity.

2. Burn calories

Keeping a moderate pace on a 30-minute walk could help burn about 150 calories. When combined with a healthy diet, the idea of losing weight is possible.

Choosing an uphill path will help you lose more weight than a flat surface. The calorie burn during the walk depends on several factors, including terrain, speed, and distance covered.

A woman counting calories using a phone app.
The calorie count in a meal can be alarming, but some of it can be reduced with a walk after lunch or dinner.

3. Relieves joint pain

The studies compiled by Harvard Medical School already mentioned suggest that walking about 6 miles per week helps prevent arthritis. In general, walking protects joints, including knees and hips, which are prone to osteoporosis.

The Arthritis Foundation remarks that the movement produced by walking puts pressure on the cartilage, an action that allows oxygen and nutrients to be brought to the area. The joints, to a large extent, don’t have a blood supply and obtain the nutrients that circulate as we move.

4. Strengthens the heart

The risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by increasing the distance and duration of daily walking. According to research, walking for about half an hour 5 days a week can lower the risk of CHD by about 19%.

5. Boosts immune function

Walking can help reduce the risk of developing the flu or shorten the time you’re sick. A study of 1,002 adults found that those who walked for about 45 minutes a day had 43% fewer upper respiratory tract infections and fewer sick days.

When they got sick, their symptoms decreased compared to sedentary people in the study group. For this reason, incorporate walks into your daily routine and try not to let rainy or cold days stop you; you could go to a closed mall or walk on a treadmill.

6. Improves memory and cognitive function

A clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who were prescribed walking showed significant improvements in memory and executive brain function compared to those who just continued their usual routine.

Likewise, a study published in the journal Neurology discovered that walking could be associated with a greater volume of gray matter in the brain and a lower risk of cognitive decline at the end of adulthood.

Walking outdoors helps you think more creatively and find solutions to problems better than sitting still. Also, if you walk in the morning, you’ll get a greater benefit.

7. More energy

Walking might be more effective than having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. This is because walking is related to increased oxygen flow, cortisol levels, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. If you often feel tired when you wake up, try trading your cup of coffee for a morning walk outside.

8. Reduces stress and improves mood

Walking improves a person’s mental state. Research has found that walking reduces depression, stress, anxiety, and negative mood. In addition, it could decrease the symptoms of social isolation and increase self-esteem.

9. Reduces the risk of developing cancer

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking could help prevent the risk of 7 out of 15 types of cancer, including kidney, breast, endometrial, liver, multiple myeloma, and colon lymphoma.

Walking 7 hours or more a week reduces the risk of endometrial cancer by 10% in women and colon cancer by 8% in men.

10. Longer life

A small investigation in the Maturitas medical journal found that older poeple who walk 4 times a week, for at least 15 minutes, could have 40% more years to live than an older person who walks less than four times a week.

Another study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine ensures that walking at an average pace reduces the risk of premature death by 20% when compared to walking at a slower pace.

11. Improves sleep quality

One could be mistaken in thinking that getting a pleasant sleep requires intense training. According to a study published in the European Journal of Physiotherapy, moderate exercises (such as a walk) have positive effects on sleep quality.

Among the greatest benefits of walking is that it reduces muscle tension and improves flexibility, so walking outdoors every morning could be enough to fall asleep soundly at night.

12. Improves balance

According to research, walking while concentrating on leg movements while walking slowly could improve brain processes for perception and balance adjustments in older people. It’s good practice to be aware of the way you walk.

13. Tones the legs

Leg muscles could be strengthened after walking routines. Walking on an incline treadmill, in a hilly area, or up stairs helps build more strength in your legs and core.

For greater toning, you can do other types of exercises after completing your walking routine, including squats, leg push-ups, or lunges.

14. Strengthens the bones

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine, conducted with healthy postmenopausal women, showed that those who walk a mile gain greater bone density compared to those who are sedentary. In addition, they also found that walking reduces the rate of decalcification in the legs.

An older woman sitting on the floor, looking at her exposed knew.
Menopausal women can benefit from walking by retaining the calcium they tend to lose.

15. Improves lung function

Walking increases the efficiency of lung function. A scientific analysis recommends doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. If you’re a healthy person, you could walk around 4 miles per hour to strengthen your lung tissue.

Tips to take advantage of the benefits of walking

Walking is usually a very easy exercise with little risk, however, you have to be careful with certain suggestions:

  • Always try to walk in areas that are designated for pedestrians and are illuminated.
  • Walk in light-weight and loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you’re a person who walks very early in the morning or at dusk, wear flashy clothing or a reflective vest so drivers can see you.
  • Remember to stay hydrated.
  • Apply sunscreen before going outside, even if the day is cloudy.
  • Wear shoes that have good heel and arch support.

Walking generates innumerable health benefits. If you stick to a routine in the morning and do it mindfully while exercising, you can go a long way toward improving cognitive, lung, and immune functions.

Walking with a companion is more bearable and enthusiastic. Take advantage while you run errands; you can get off the bus or train one stop before you reach your destination. Also, build an ideal goal that includes a route and a time to do it.

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