Walking for Health is recommended by many doctors as a way of managing various problems. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that can get blood flowing, release endorphins and speed up digestion. Below are just some of the different health problems that walking may help you to manage.
Walking could help to reduce blood sugar levels. When we go for a walk, blood starts flowing faster around the body and insulin sensitivity increases. As a result of this, excess sugar in our bloodstream is more easily converted into energy. Walking is preferred to more intense forms of exercise which can sometimes increase blood sugar levels. Of course, there are many other things you should also do to manage diabetes. Examples include carb counting for diabetes and consuming less alcohol.
Traditionally, those with back pain were recommended bed rest. But more recent studies have found that this can actually be harmful for conditions like sciatica. This is because when you are inactive, muscles can seize up and further irritate the sciatic nerve. Although it is not the case for everyone, walking can often improve sciatica by putting less pressure on the sciatic nerve and by releasing pain-reducing endorphins. More intense forms of exercise may aggravate sciatica. Other low impact exercises that may help sciatica include pilates and swimming.
Walking is low impact, and so doesn’t put a lot of strain on joints. In fact, for many people with arthritis, walking can help keep joints flexible and reduce flare-ups. Walking also helps build bone strength – people with rheumatoid arthritis are more at risk of developing osteoporosis, which may be prevented by doing walking. It’s worth noting that challenging walks may aggravate arthritis, so it’s important to know your limits. Other exercises that can help relieve arthritis include swimming and yoga.
Exercise can help speed up digestion. It increases blood flow to our digestive system and also helps shake up the gut. If you suffer from constipation a lot, regularly walking could help to encourage easier bowel movements. Stomach cramps from constipation may also be reduced from walking as a result of endorphins being released and less pressure on the stomach. Other measures like staying well hydrated and eating the right foods can also help.
Walking is also good for the mind. Walking releases endorphins which not only help reduce pain but also help to reduce stress. Another reason walking is so mentally beneficial is because it encourages us to spend time outdoors. Surrounding ourselves with nature has a calming effect on us. It also exposes us to more vitamin D (which some studies have found to be potentially key to our mood), as well as sending fresh oxygen to the brain. All in all, if you experience depression or anxiety, you may find that walking helps to clear the mind of negative thoughts. It may even inspire more positive thoughts – particularly if you go for walks in new surroundings.