The Importance of Walking for Good Health

By Erin Palinski-Wade

Walking is not America’s number one form of exercise for no reason. In fact, walking offers tremendous benefits to your health, your waistline, and even your mood and stress levels. To be honest, you can’t afford not to walk! The main benefit you’re probably concerned about with walking is shedding pounds and inches. Well, don’t worry — walking will certainly help you with this.

As you may already be aware from past failed weight‐loss attempts, it’s almost impossible to lose weight and keep it off long term with diet alone. Exercise needs to be a vital part of your daily routine. The formula for weight loss is simple. Take in fewer calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight.

However, the more active you are, the more calories you burn, which allows more flexibility with your eating plan. You can cut calories without exercise and lose weight, but keeping this weight off without exercise can be quite challenging. Exercising on a regular basis helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Because muscle boosts metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day), increasing it makes weight management easier.

To show you just how important physical activity is to weight loss, take a study done at Wake Forest University Medical Center. This study compared two groups of women: one group who dieted and one who walked while dieting. The women who walked between 1 and 2 miles daily three times per week were able to shrink stubborn belly fat cells by 18 percent over a four month period, while those who just dieted showed no change in belly fat cells.

As you can see by these results, just short walks a few times per week can make a large difference in body fat as well as body weight.

In addition to weight loss, walking offers many other health benefits as well including:

  • Improving heart health

  • Lowering stress levels

  • Decreasing diabetes risk

  • Improving bone health

  • Boosting mood

  • Improving cognitive function

  • Boosting the immune system

  • Decreasing symptoms associated with menopause

  • Improving sleep

  • Increasing lifespan