Believe it or not, walking can actually increase your intelligence. Walking helps to supply the brain with the required amounts of oxygen and glucose, which helps it function better. It also decreases the levels of LDL cholesterol, which clogs arteries, and hence reduces the risk of stroke (7). So, walking can help improve blood circulation, which helps the brain and cellular functions.
Taking a walk alone can be great for clearing your head or blowing off some steam but it also provides a great opportunity to bond with friends and family—far away from electronics and other distractions at home. Even better, you set a powerful example because when they see you reaping in the benefits of walking, they’ll be encouraged to walk more, too, according to a study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Try these walking workouts that will keep your walking group interesting.
Pedometers also work well for people who simply don't have time or don't take time to walk consistently as a form of exercise. By tracking the number of steps you take each day simply doing your regular daily activities, you may find that you're getting in plenty of exercise. Some experts recommend 10,000 steps a day. Others say this would be an eventual target.
One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent. Researchers labelled this type of creativity “divergent thinking,” which they define as a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. According to the study, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
These electrons have powerful antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences. For example, one scientific review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health concluded that grounding (walking barefoot on the earth) could improve a number of health conditions, including the following:14
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
Heavier people burn calories at a quicker rate than lighter people during every form of exercise, including walking. According to the University of Maryland Medical System, a 120-pound person who walks for 60 minutes at a moderate pace of 2 mph burns about 256 calories. People who weigh 180 and 240 pounds, however, burn about 384 and 512 calories, respectively, during the same length of walk at the same speed.
Add strengthening exercises to your walking workout to build muscle. Even though strength training does not burn considerable calories, it replaces your fat with lean muscle mass. Your body works harder to sustain your muscle mass, raising your resting metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day. Invest in light hand weights or wrist weights and pump your hands as you walk. Build lower body muscles by lifting your knees high during part of your walk. Stop every five minutes and do a series of squats or lunges.
Sedentary lifestyles have repeatedly been held partially responsible for the excessive poundage. This is why many groups, including the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Association for Sport & Physical Education (NASPE), and AARP, are now promoting campaigns on how to incorporate physical activity into daily life. And since these organizations recognize the challenge of getting people moving, many have included fitness walking into their recommendations.
Walking is a great exercise and helps you lose weight. American scientists designed an experiment where obese patients walked together (a concept known as the ‘walking bus’) to their destinations in and around the city. After 8 weeks, their weight was checked, and more than 50% of the participants lost an average of 5 pounds (4). Therefore, it might be a good idea to start walking to and from your nearby destinations, instead of driving your car.
As you get fit, you burn less calories doing the exact same workout. Shift your walking workout into a higher gear by doing interval training. Start at a warmup pace for a couple minutes and then walk at a brisk pace. Every five minutes, increase your pace to a sprint level, either by speed-walking, running or skipping rope. Maintain this burst of speed for 30 seconds. Return to a slow walk for a minute and then back to your vigorous pace before the next sprint. You dramatically boost your heart rate during the sprints, and it stays raised during the recovery period, resulting in more calories burned.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University took a close look at the most common equations used over the past 40 years. And surprise! They found two major problems: First, the sample sizes that these equations were based off of were way too small (only six people for one method), and only included men. Second, this data didn’t take into account that people of different sizes expend energy at different rates (for instance, heavier people burn fewer cals per pound when walking the same distance as those who weigh less). As a result, when the researchers put these two equations to the test, they found that their calorie estimates were too low in a whopping 97 percent of cases.