Thursday Ask Dr. Walt – Walking for your overall physical, mental, and relational health
This week’s “Ask Dr. Walt” question comes from “Romantic in Rhode Island.” Dear Dr. Walt, my wife and I enjoy our walks together. She says she read walking can benefit our physical health as much as our relational health. True?
Prevention magazinelists these benefits of walking:
Your mood improves. Regular walking modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility. When you make your walks social — with a friend or your spouse — you feel connected, which boosts mood.
Your creative juices flow. Research found that the walkers thought more creatively than sitters.
Your jeans get looser. Regular walking can improve your body’s response to insulin, which can reduce belly fat. “Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older.”
You’ll slash your risk of chronic disease. The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers blood sugar and your risk for diabetes. Researchers found regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and reduced stroke risk by 20 to 40%. Another study found those who walked 30 or more minutes on five or more days per week had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly.
Your digestion improves. A regular walking routine can greatly improve gastric mobility.
When you become a regular walker, you establish a regular routine. When you have a routine, you are more likely to continue with the activity and take on new healthy behaviors.
Mayo Clinic experts add these benefits from walking:
Improves your balance and coordination.
Strengthens your bones and muscles.
I recommend walking because it’s simple. Except for certain disabilities and injuries, most of us can walk fine without any coaching.