If you’ve ever stubbed your toe, or slammed your hip into a table, your mom has undoubtedly, at some point in your life, suggested you “walk it off” as if the sheer act of walking could somehow ease the searing pain in your toe or leg. As with mustard chest compresses, or keeping your tongue out of the electrical outlets, mom was right.
Walking is good for
you. Really, really good for you. According to the American Heart Association, walking has the lowest drop-out rate of any physical activity. A 30 minute walk every day can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improve blood pressure and lipid profile, lower the risk of obesity and diabetes, especially in older adults who may have difficulty with more intense physical exercise. Walking can also help to maintain joint mobility and muscle tone. New research is showing that walking outdoors can even enhance your sense of well-being.
A number of recent studies have shown that urbanites without access to green space have higher rates of mental illness and other psychological issues than people who frequently walk in parks or other natural areas. City dwellers who make time for regular nature walks, however, experience lower levels of stress hormones, and a happier more relaxed disposition.
Even if you can’t get to a park, simply getting up from your chair can produce a huge health benefit. Replacing as little as two minutes of sitting each hour with gentle walking can lower your risk of premature death by 33 percent, compared with people who sat without getting up. In a recent study by the medical publication Diabetologia;
Those who walked around after standing, replacing some of their sitting time with a light-intensity activity like strolling, gained a substantial benefit in terms of mortality risk. In fact, if they replaced as little as two minutes of sitting each hour with gentle walking, they lowered their risk of premature death by about 33 percent, compared with people who sat almost nonstop. (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/13/a-2-minute-walk-may-counter-the-harms-of-sitting/)
Aside from the obvious health benefits, walking also gives you time to quietly reflect, get to know your neighborhood, or get somewhere without creating unnecessary greenhouse gases. So, put on your shoes and walk it off. Your mom was right.