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Take the Stairs Instead: 4 Surprising Benefits of Walking

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Walking has the potential to improve all aspects of your health. Whether you're trying to incorporate it into your daily routine in the hopes of shedding a few pounds, fighting certain ailments, or calming your mind from everyday stresses, taking a walk can work wonders for your body and mental health. Here are four benefits of walking you should know about.

 

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Take the Stairs Instead: 4 Surprising Benefits of Walking
Image via Flickr by juhansonin

When you make the effort to be more active, you have the potential to turn occasional walking trips into a regular routine. It's a lifestyle change that doesn't require much, and you'll find the physical benefits are worth the effort.

Start by taking the stairs instead of using an escalator or elevator. Ditch the car a few times a week in favor of walking; you'll save gas and time from trying to find a parking spot. When you're at home, avoid lounging on the sofa for too long. Instead, walk around the house, stretch your muscles, and keep yourself busy. You can even set a goal and use a step counter, such as Lifesum's Movesum pedometer app, to track your progress.

 

Strengthen Your Immune System

When cold and flu season hits, it hits hard. When one person gets sick, germs can't help but attach themselves to healthy immune systems. While over-the-counter medicine is one treatment option, so is moderate exercise. Walking for half an hour every day may help you feel better and can reduce your risk of getting infected again. The same can be said for allergy sufferers — studies have shown that walking can help alleviate symptoms such as itchy skin, sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose.

 

Lower Your Risk of Developing a Chronic Disease

While some things are out of our control, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing a chronic disease. According to the American Cancer Society, women who don't maintain a healthy weight after menopause face a higher risk for breast cancer than those who regularly exercise and eat a balanced diet. Walking for two and a half hours every week is a good starting point, and the more you do, the lower your risk becomes.

The American Diabetes Association found that engaging in physical activity reduces the risk of a stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. It also tackles high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation, and high sugar levels. Fight off chronic illness and overcome a sedentary lifestyle by taking a non-strenuous approach to exercise: walking!

 

De-Stress Your Mind

Walking improves not only your physical health but yourmental health as well. Between work and family responsibilities, finding time for yourself to relax and unwind from the day can sometimes feel impossible. When you're feeling stressed, depressed or anxious, or you're suffering from a mental block, use walking as an outlet to find balance and harmony in your life and release your emotions in a healthier way. You might even find yourself sleeping better at night because of it.

It doesn't take much to improve your health; you can start with basic steps and work your way up. If you're having trouble sticking to a regular walking routine, consider inviting friends and family along to make it a fun and social affair!

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