April 2, 2015

10 Advantages of walking

I've mentioned the dangers of an inactive lifestyle several times (see here). Such a lifestyle not only increases the chance of physical diseases and discomfort but also increases the chance of different kinds of brain disease and mental problems. When you are moderately intensively physically active for at least 30 minutes per day the blood circulation in your brain is improved and your brain activity and alertness is increased. This type of physical activity also stimulates the development of new neurons (neurogenesis) and the growth of longer and more complex dendrites.

There are some immediate benefits of such physical activity. About 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking leads to more creativity, to feeling better and it decreases your craving for sugary snacks. In the medium term there are also some benefits. For example, a study showed that after 24 weeks of walking 10,000 steps a day participants blood pressure had decreased and their glucose level had improved. In the long term, daily physical activity reduces the risk of or delays the occurrence of diseases like Alzheimer's disease. There are even indications that frequent brisk walking can reduce symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

There are, of course, many ways you can be physically active (swimming, bicycling, fitness, running, etc.) and achieve these types of health benefits but I do not think there is a better of more attractive way to do it than walking. Here are 10 advantages of walking in comparison with other ways of being physically active:
  1. It is completely free
  2. You can do it anywhere and anytime
  3. You don't need any special cloths or equipment for it. 
  4. It does not look strange (everybody walks)
  5. You can do easily do it together with other people (also read this)
  6. You can very easily regulate how much you strain yourself
  7. You can easily combine it with other useful activities (like grocery shopping)
  8. You can walk in the sun (good for the production of vitamin D)
  9. You can walk in nature (which gives energy)
  10. While walking you can discover new places and people
Question: am I forgetting any advantages? What other advantages of walking can you think of? 

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