We really don’t give walking enough credit. It’s something so simple that we often take for granted but in reality, going for a walk has huge- and we mean HUGE- health benefits. It is the #1 exercise recommended by doctors regardless of the health issue and we can understand why. It doesn’t require any equipment (other than proper shoes), it’s easy, and the mental and physical benefits are incredible.

The key is consistency. But by walking for just 30 minutes a day, here is how you can expect to improve.

Better Mood:
Simply put, walking creates endorphins and endorphins make you feel better :) Studies show that walking regularly actually changes the nervous system so much that you experience emotions like anger less frequently. Especially in the winter months, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real. Walking and getting some fresh air is the least complicated way to battle back. Walking also reduces stress levels by increasing circulation to provide more oxygen and nutrients to your cells, stimulating the nervous system to decrease the creation of stress hormones, and helps you to focus on your breathing and relieve tension.

Reduced Risk of Disease:
There are countless studies that show the multitude of chronic diseases that walking helps to prevent. It lowers blood sugars helping to prevent diabetes and the likelihood of a stroke. Walking also helps your heart health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Weight Loss:
Walking consistently helps with weight loss and, in particular, loss of fat in your mid-section. So, even if the numbers on the scale aren’t changing quickly, you may notice that your pants are getting a little looser over time. That’s because you may be losing some inches around the middle. Walking is a one-legged exercise (believe it or not) which forces the use of your core. Now, like any new activity, within an 8-week period, your body will get used to the movement and adapt which means a plateau will be reached. At that point, add other more challenging activities to your regime like strength training or movement culture activities. Add more mileage and do jogging intervals during your walks to keep the weight at bay and keep seeing improvements.

Strengthened Muscles:
Walking consistently adds lean muscle tissue to your glutes, calves, hammies, quads and also prevents muscle loss. As we age, it is common for us to lose muscle mass but walking is a simple way to prevent this or regain muscle mass that has been lost. Especially if you keep changing your terrain. Walking uphill or on uneven terrain increases the likelihood of this happening. More muscle = more strength = less fat.

Connecting to Nature:
We always recommend walking outdoors. Yes, even in the winter. In Ottawa. Do it. You’re still getting in your workout with the added benefit of fresh air which makes it that much easier to feel less stress, anxiety or anger. Why is it important? For one thing, temperature regulation and exposure. The circulated indoor heat doesn’t allow for proper temperature adjustment inside our bodies. We then find it difficult when e And you can always join us for the upcoming free Community Winter Hike in the Gatineau Park.

Increased Productivity:
Walking sparks creativity by calming your nerves and relaxing your brain. If you’re feeling stuck, taking a break to go for a walk can actually help you to be more productive and think strategically when you get back to it. Studies also show that this kind of physical exercise increases the size of the hippocampus which helps to prevent memory loss. Exposure to nature has proven to increase creativity which in turn assists in problem-solving and being less reactive and more responsive to the things that come up in our ambitious and busy lives.

Bolstered Immune System:
This is a great way to boost immunity, especially in the chillier months when cold and flu season is running rampant. Walking helps to increase the natural production of Vitamin D, and enhances the activity of B- and T-cells (immune cells). If you do happen to get sick, walkers often don’t suffer from as many symptoms and recover faster, since walking increases the release of white blood cells.

These are just some of the main benefits of walking! Most importantly, walking is the perfect “me” time – the return on this minimal investment will last a lifetime.

You can also come walk with us! Our team organizes weekly community walks to help you get your daily steps in. Join us every Wednesday morning at 9:30 to meet new people, get to know our neighbourhood and, of course, benefit from the amazing healthy side-effects that walking offers.