Many people believe that getting in shape requires an intense, time-consuming workout schedule. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth! You can experience wellness benefits from very basic forms of exercise, like taking a daily walk.
If you’re trying to live a happier, healthier life, a simple stroll outside is a great first step. Getting out for a quick walk around the block is effective for boosting brain function, alleviating mental challenges and improving your physical health.
Here are some of the many benefits you’ll enjoy by adding a 30-minute walk to your daily routine:
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiencies are very common, especially during the winter months and in regions with gloomy weather. Human bodies produce vitamin D when they’re exposed to sunlight, so you can increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient by going for a walk outside. Vitamin D is necessary for multiple bodily functions including bone production and immune health. Vitamin D can also reduce inflammation in people who are sick or living with inflammatory diseases. You won’t get vitamin D from walking on a treadmill, so lace up your sneakers and hit the trails!
- Sleep quality: A daily walk can improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. Light exercise lowers a stress hormone called cortisol as well as blood pressure levels, both of which can impact sleep. Walking also burns off pent-up energy you might have from sitting in an office all day. Putting a little pep in your step improves blood circulation as well, which is necessary for better-quality sleep. Even just 10 minutes of walking will help your body relax when it’s time for your head to hit the pillow.
- Productivity: Your brain needs oxygen in order to perform at its best. In fact, the brain requires far more oxygen than the rest of the body. Going for a brief walk during your breaks at work can increase the brain’s oxygen levels and boost productivity. Plus, getting up and moving will help you stay awake and alert during long days. If you don’t have time for a full 30 minutes, break your walk into several smaller ones throughout the day. There’s no better cure for brain fog than getting some fresh air!
- Mood boost: Doing exercise requires motivation to get off the couch and get your body moving. Finding that motivation can be hard, but once you’re out on the trails, you’ll feel much better than you did before the walk. That’s because walking releases a type of neurotransmitter called endorphins. These affect your mood by keeping negative emotions in check and promoting a more positive outlook. Over time, daily walks can make you a much happier person!
- Stress relief: A daily 30-minute walk is the easiest way to reduce your stress. Walking lowers cortisol, a hormone that makes you feel stressed. Not only does this improve your mental health, but a walk in nature can also help regulate the physiological signs of stress—primarily heart rate and blood pressure. Although light exercise raises your heart rate in the moment, the long-term benefits include a lower resting heart rate as well as lower blood pressure. The mind and body are closely connected, so improving the health of one will improve the health of the other.
- Weight loss: When paired with a healthy diet, daily walks can help you lose a few pounds. Many weight loss programs sound pretty intense and might actually deter people from pursuing their fitness goals. Walking is one of the best ways to lose weight because it’s super easy, requires no special skills and just about everyone can do it. Get the most out of your walks by asking friends to join in and choosing your favorite nature spot. You’re more likely to make daily walks a habit and lose weight when you’re having fun!
- Overall health: Daily walks come with a slew of other health benefits. Walking is a load-bearing yet low-impact activity, which means you’re strengthening your bones without putting too much stress on the joints. Walking increases blood flow and raises your heart rate, both of which work together to improve heart health. All these benefits mean you’re at a lower risk for developing chronic illnesses and can live a healthier life.
It’s easier to get in shape than you might think. When you carve out just 30 minutes each day to go for a walk, your life can improve in ways you never thought possible. Walking in nature is so easy and has so many benefits, there’s no reason not to do it!