Having a routine to walk every day sounds pleasant, doesn't it? It's nice to get outside and go for a walk as you enjoy the morning (or evening) breeze, look at the trees as they change from season-to-season, and breathe in the fresh air. Plus, if you're lucky, you can lose a few pounds while doing it. But does going for a walk every day actually help you with your weight loss efforts?
In order to understand how walking can help your overall health, we spoke with Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific, about what happens to your body when you walk every day. And if you're looking for even more healthy tips, check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
It can improve your mental health.
"Having a regular walking schedule can be great for your health, and I am not just talking about physical, but also your mental health," says Dr. Lee. "[You have a] feeling of accomplishment by burning calories, [you] can lower your daily stress, and you let the body secrete natural endorphins which is the 'feel good' hormone."
Dr. Lee also recommends having "walking buddies" with a regular, designated time, which can help with multitasking. Get your walk in and catch up with a friend all at once.
"The great thing is, the endorphin from our walks also helps us feel a bit more energized and have a better mindset for the rest of the day," says Dr. Lee.
Did you know Walking at This Time Can Help You Lose More Weight?
It can help maintain weight.
If your goal is to maintain your weight and stay healthy, having a daily practice of walking can help—especially if you hit the right amount of steps per day,
"On average, data has shown that there are benefits for overall health and wellness if you can get in 10,000 steps a day," says Dr. Lee. "That is equivalent to about 5 miles of distance, depending on the length of your legs and your stride."
Dr. Lee says that for people who like to track, wearing a pedometer and actually measuring your steps can be helpful in terms of actually reaching those 10,000 steps a day.
"The standard distance and amount of steps to be considered beneficial for health and wellness is about 10,000 steps," she says. "This also includes walking from your car in a parking lot, going up and down the stairs at your work, or moving around to do house chores."
If you want to lose weight, add more steps.
While walking 10,000 steps is a good goal for maintaining your weight and overall health, if you want to actually lose weight, studies show you have to walk at least 15,000 steps a day. Or incorporate some kind of extra exercise.
"Now if you intend to lose weight, you need to step it up! Meaning, besides the 10,000 steps, you do have to incorporate something with more intensity to activate the muscles,"
You can also try a few tricks in your walking routine that will transform it into a good exercise. Here are a few key points from Dr. Lee herself.
- Walk faster: "Time yourself and see how long it takes you to typically walk 10,000 steps. Then find a day when you start and try to do the same distance with less time."
- Walk harder: "Swing those arms and be more intentional with your movements. Squeeze your glutes and swing your hips. You would be surprised what muscle groups you end up activating."
- Walk at an incline: "If you always walk the same loop in the park or your neighborhood, try to find a hill or locations with more gradient. That way, you are increasing your cardio."
- Walk with weights: "Consider adding wrist weights or ankle weights, but start at 1 pound and then add more as time goes on. Starting with too much weight can cause injuries if your muscles are not used to it."
- Walk farther: "If time is not limited, give yourself a little more time to cover more distance."
Need more ideas? Here are 30 Tips When You're Walking for Weight Loss.
You'll lower your risk of various conditions.
According to Mayo Clinic, having a regular practice of walking can not only help maintain a healthy weight, but can even help to "prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes."
You'll strengthen your bones and muscles.
Mayo Clinic also mentions that walking can help keep your bones and muscles strong, which is especially important for mobility as you age. Dr. Lee also mentions that walking is the exercise she typically recommends for people who are getting older, as well as people with various disabilities.
After your walk, here are 25 Best Foods to Eat for Muscle Definition and Toning.