We all love getting outside and walking, taking in the surrounding countryside, filling our lungs with fresh air and feeling our heart pounding.
Walking is great for our mental health too, it gives us time to gather our thoughts away from external influences and lets us mindfully live in the moment, enjoying all that we see.
Physically, walking is a great exercise for our body - it is low impact so doesn’t hurt our joints, it burns calories as we walk and keep our muscles strong and healthy, but what actually happens to our bodies as we walk? Let's have a look.
Let's start with the fat burning part since many of us are keen to drop a few pounds. Walking can be great for fat burning; not only does it burn calories it can also speed up your metabolism meaning that you burn more calories throughout your everyday life. If you walk at a steady speed fast enough so your heart beats faster and causes you to breathe harder and deeper then you will burn more calories.
If you walked a mile and ran a mile you would actually burn the exact same number of calories.
Studies have found that walking briskly or jogging calms you down by sparking nerve cells in the brain that relax the senses.
Not only that, walking usually gives you some time to think about things that might have been bothering you and to sort through things that are on your mind. Fresh air and the great outdoors are really good at helping us put things into perspective too.
3.Your Leg Muscles Strengthen
Walking builds strength and endurance. Over time this leads to stronger legs, especially the calves and hamstrings. To push yourself & keep on developing those leg muscles try walking hills and mountains, climbing flights of stairs and walking on more challenging terrain.
Walking can be really useful for your digestive system. Ever taken a walk and felt the need to ‘go to the toilet’? Walking is great at getting everything moving.
A good time to walk is straight after after you've eaten as it can help stimulate your digestive tract making it easy for your food to be digested. Studies have shown that a post-meal walk can speed up the rate at which food moves through the stomach and can decrease your blood sugar after meals, which in turn decreases cardiovascular risk and potentially diabetes.
5.Release Muscle Tension
Walking warms up your muscles gently and stretches them naturally through motion, take long strides and gently swing your arms to get the full stretching benefits.
6.Strengthen Your Heart
Walking is a great way to help strengthen your heart as it is a form of aerobic exercise; it increases your heart rate and blood circulation through the body, and it brings more oxygen and nutrients to the organs.
We love to feel the sun on our skin and our bodies need a sunshine hit to keep our vitamin D supplies topped up, so even if you are out on a cloudy day, particularly in summer, some sunshine rays are likely finding your skin and giving you some much needed vitamin D while also putting a smile on your face.
Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate we have in our body. We need these nutrients to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults.
If you are a poor sleeper then try a late walk - the fresh air and exercise will help to tire your body and having the space to think will help to clear your mind of any worries that might be stopping you from drifting off to the land of nod.
9.Enhances Your Mood
Exercise in general boosts our endorphins which puts us in a better mood, and walking is no exception. Studies have shown that walking regularly can help you to feel more enthusiastic in general, much more relaxed, more positive and overall gives us a much better feeling of well-being.