The Benefits of Walking

Following on from our article Fitting in a Lunchtime Workout, today we bring you the benefits of walking. From mental health to sleep time, to saving money to the environment, we cover all the bits and bobs of why walking is good for you.

#1 Outrunning depression

It’s widely known that walking is good for your physical health, but it’s great for you mentally too. Taking a walk can instantly lift your mood, especially if you venture outdoors. A study published by JAMA Psychiatry found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26% – how amazing is that?

#2 You need more sleep

Getting a solid eight hours sleeping is one of the most important things you can do for your health. In this meta-analysis of sleep studies, it was discovered that a brisk walk on the daily and being a regular walker means you get longer and better quality sleep. Impressive, right?

#3 Fresh air is good for you

Spending at least two hours a week outdoors is closely associated with good health and well being, according to research published by Nature Scientific Reports. The people who do so are 20% more likely to claim that they were satisfied with their lives than their more sedentary counterparts. We all need to feel that extra boost of contentment, especially on a Monday morning.

#4 Saving yourself money

Fitness can be pricey! I pay £49 for my membership in London plus £13 for a gym at home. Money for a gym membership, home exercise equipment, workout clothes – it all adds up quickly. But it doesn’t have to. You can just take a walk instead in your reliable Nike’s that you’ve owned for the past 10 years.

#5 Get those 10,000 steps in

10,000 steps, myth or not? World-renowned fitness tech brand Fitbit starts everyone off with a 10,000-step goal, but why? Because it actually adds up to about five miles each day for most people. These 10,000 steps should also include about 30 minutes of daily exercise – and so to satisfy the CDC’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

#6 Quality time with people you care about – and yourself

Walking alone is a good way to clear your head or blow off some steam when you’re a little worked up – and it’s nice to have that time to yourself to relax and calm down, which is an advantage in itself. But walking also provides you with the time to take your family or friends out away from the distractions at home… family picnic?

#7 Reduce your stress levels

Moving clears cortisol, the “stress hormone”, out of your system. A lot of us drown in stress every day and that takes a serious toll on our health. But science says one of the benefits of walking is it’s one of the fastest, most effective ways to calm down.

#8 You’re helping the environment

In our age of the climate crisis, we need to be out there saving the planet. When you choose to walk instead of drive or take the tube, you’re reducing the amount of pollution released into the air. So – whoa! You’re improving the air quality all around us. Isn’t that easier than you thought?

So… where do you walk?

Think about your daily routine and where you can include some walking – it’s that simple. Here are my pointers, but there are so much more out there when you put your mind to it.

  • Try skipping the tube and walking to work, or to the station or bus stop.
  • Instead of taking the lift, take the stairs.
  • Use your lunch break to take an easy walk in the sunshine.
  • Do a weekend family walk to the park, and bring the dog!