But it’s not only your creativity that will benefit from the mental lift. The act of walking is also a proven mood booster. One study found that just 12 minutes of walking resulted in an increase in joviality, vigor, attentiveness and self-confidence versus the same time spent sitting. Walking in nature, specifically, was found to reduce ruminating over negative experiences, which increases activity in the brain associated with negative emotions and raises risk of depression.
So to recap, walking daily is excellent. Walking daily for 10,000 steps or more is even better. And if you can do so outdoors in the sunshine, and barefoot for grounding, you’ll enjoy even greater benefits. To be clear, you don’t have to do your 10,000 steps a day all at once. You can break up your daily steps into any size increments that work for you. You might walk for one hour in the early morning, 30 minutes during your lunch hour, and another hour in the evening. Or you might enjoy taking shorter 20-minute walks throughout your day.
Meta-analyses and reviews are useful for getting an overall sense of the many studies of aerobic exercise and BP. A 2007 meta-analysis of the effects of endurance exercise on BP found that exercise significantly reduced resting and daytime ambulatory BP.38 A more recent review (2010) found again that regular aerobic exercise lowered clinical BP.39 In both the 2007 meta-analysis and the 2010 review, aerobic exercise appeared to reduce BP more in patients with hypertension compared with those without hypertension. Five small studies in women systematically reviewed in 2011 showed a nonsignificant change in BP in response to aerobic interval training of walking. Walking programs appeared to reduce BP in some 9/27 trials reviewed in 2010. Larger trials with increased intensity or frequency of exercise for longer periods tended to be the ones that showed a significant effect.40 The authors concluded that further high-quality trials are needed. The most comprehensive and latest meta-analysis of all types of exercise clearly demonstrates the ability of aerobic exercise to lower BP within 8 to 12 weeks.41 In 105 trials, endurance exercise significantly lowered BP by 3.5/2.5 mm Hg. The effect was much larger in patients with preexisting hypertension (−8.3/6.8 mm Hg).