With a few more weeks of warm weather ahead of us, there’s still plenty of time to put on your walking shoes and enjoy one of the many stunning walks that New Zealand has to offer – or even just a stroll around the local park.
And did you know that walking comes with a number of physical and mental benefits? Here are some of the most common, according to experts.
Improve your physical fitness
Walking might be one of the most underrated forms of exercise. What if we told you that it can be as good a workout, if not better for some people, than running?
Scientific evidence abounds. According to the NZ Ministry of Health, regular walking can help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and Type-2 diabetes, while also improving blood circulation, and bone and muscle strength (to name a few).
Plus, British researchers found that those who adhered to a walking programme showed reduced cholesterol, improved depression scores, reduced body fat and body weight, and better blood pressure.
Ease joint pain
It may sound counterintuitive, but several studies have found that walking protects the joints. By lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them, walking can reduce arthritis-related pain – and if done regularly, could even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place.
Improve immune function
Here’s another great reason to ‘walk the walk’. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those that walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least five days a week, had 43 per cent fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration and with milder symptoms.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Not only will a good walk burn calories, but it can also help you de-stress. A study published in 2018 revealed that even a 10-minute walk can improve mood in young adults when compared to no activity at all. Interestingly, researchers noted that a short bout of meditation had the same effect.
What’s more, walking has been shown to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, improve sleep quality, and result in better cognitive performance. So if you’re looking for a fresh perspective, why not head out in the fresh air?
Boost your creativity levels
Whether you’re walking outdoors or on a treadmill, research has shown that this activity can help increase your creative output by up to 60 per cent. According to researchers, the mechanical process of walking doesn’t require us to think very much, allowing us to engage our cognitive functions in a way we usually wouldn’t when sitting.
So if you ever get stuck on a work problem, or need your creative juice to flow freely, a walk could be your answer.
An opportunity to catch up
Who says that walking has to be a solitary activity? Walking with friends and family can be a great way to ‘disconnect to reconnect’ on another level.
According to EasyHike.co.nz, the benefits of walking in good company are multifold. From clearing your head through to spreading the load, creating fun challenges, and keeping each other safe, spending time in nature with others can positively influence your relationships and overall happiness.
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Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.