Walking With Purpose
It’s something we do, with little thought or effort, right from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning – sure, it may start off as more of a stumble than a confident stride, but it still counts! All-day we move about our homes and offices. Sometimes it’s to grab a bite to eat or get a desperately needed caffeine refill. Other times, it’s to do a little victory strut around the living room, or just get away from our devices as we take a breather. But whether it’s a sleepy stumble, a hungry shuffle, a silly step, or a frustrated stomp, it’s still a walk! And it’s incredibly good for you!
With new activity trackers becoming available almost daily, and always striving to hit that magical 10,000 step-count that can feel impossible to achieve, it’s important to remember that even a quick 30-minute walk has its benefits! So let’s slip on a good pair of walking shoes, and take a look at how putting one foot in front of the other can help improve both physical and mental health, lead to a better sleep and spark some creativity.
Breathe in deep and work that heart
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of walking is improved cardiovascular and pulmonary health. With just 30 minutes a day, you can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, and even improve conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Taking a stroll after meals have been shown to drop blood sugar levels, which may also help prevent heart disease, and can be incredibly beneficial to those with Type 2 Diabetes, as studies show that a brisk walk may actually help with insulin intake. Some studies even suggest that walking can increase your life expectancy – talk about taking steps towards your future!
A workout that’s bone-deep
Every breath you take burns calories – so it goes without saying that walking does, too! Going for a walk can help you maintain a healthy weight, and increase bone and muscle health. Did you know, walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise? That means you’re working out your muscles, bones and joints, using only the weight of your own body – no gym membership required! If you’re up for the challenge, put a little bounce in your step, or mix in a few minutes of light jogging, and you’ll see an even bigger benefit for your bones. You may also find that the more you walk, the better you sleep – which is no coincidence! Exercise has been shown to reduce sleep onset – the time it takes to fall asleep – and increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep – which is essential for muscle recovery and body restoration!
Remember to work that brain
Did you know, walking can also have a great impact on your mental health? Multiple studies show that physical activity can help promote better memory and cognitive function, reduce stress and anxiety, and vastly improve your mood; however a study done by Stanford University demonstrates that, in addition to these benefits, walking can actually boost creative output by up to 60%! It’s not entirely known why walking allows us to think in more creative ways, or make connections we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, but the next time you find yourself struggling to catch your muse or connect the dots, consider taking a brief walk to help get that blood – and creativity – flowing! Things may just seem clearer and easier to manage, once you return from your stroll.
Want to take it one step further? Don’t settle for pacing up and down the hallway. Instead, head for the trails! Immersing yourself in nature, or taking the scenic route along paths like those found right here at West 5 can do wonders for that mental muscle!
Connect to more than just your phone
Perhaps one of the most important, yet overlooked, benefits of walking is the opportunity it gives us to be connected to the community around us, and our loved ones. While it’s true that walking can easily be enjoyed between you and your headphones, it can just as easily become a dedicated time for you and your family, or friends, to get out, boost your endorphin levels, improve your heart health, and talk about the little things. Or the big things!
Social walking is the best of both worlds. By combining the benefits of walking, with the benefits of time spent with friends, family, and your community, your daily walk suddenly becomes one of the best things you can do for yourself – both physically and mentally. That’s part of why we designed West 5 the way we did; because we believe that a walkable community is a healthy and happy one. And we know that finding 30 minutes of your day to walk around trails, or even around the street, may seem impossible, but it’s important to remember that those 30 minutes are so much more than just a walk.
It’s a preventative measure for high blood pressure. It’s a way to maintain bone and muscle health. It’s a stress-buster and brain-pleaser.
And, most importantly, it may be exactly what you need. We walk every day, without even realizing it. Maybe it’s time we start walking with purpose, so we can make every stride count.