Exercising has a plethora of benefits, aside from just weight loss. It is usually the case that people skip out on workouts just because they can’t fit in the time, but the benefits of walking for just 15 minutes a day provide nearly the same effects.
I remember when I started walking for 15-20 minutes a day when I was overweight. It became an obsession, and I couldn’t wait to do it every day. I eventually got into running, but if it wasn’t for walking, and the amazing results it provided me, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today.
Fitting in just 15 minutes of walking a day really isn’t that hard either. Whether you wake up earlier to do it in the morning, fit it in a lunch break during work, or go on an evening stroll, a brief walk can dramatically change the way your body looks and feels.
The Health Benefits of Walking
You’ll want to lace up your shoes after you read these benefits of walking…
A French study found that adults aged 65 or older who walked just 15 minutes a day had a 22% lower risk of death (1). That percentage increased with longer and more frequent activity levels.
Since a large number of early deaths are due to inactivity, we can see how just 15 minutes of walking a day can dramatically increase ones lifespan.
Walking, as with most aerobic exercises, makes the heart more efficient and helps it deliver more oxygen and nutrients to other organs. It also means that energy (in the form of the food we consume) is used (instead of being stored as fat), and your organ, muscles, and bones are strengthened.
In fact, sitting too long is associated with heart disease, diabetes, premature death, colon cancer, obesity, muscle degeneration, reduced mental clarity and spinal issues. Likewise, walking can help reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Walking, as with most physical activity, releases endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, if implemented, using physical activity as a way to treat individuals with mental illness has been found to be one of the most valuable components of a treatment plan (2).
Walking outdoors especially, has a supportive effect on mental health. Natural surroundings and greenery help improve mood, decrease stress, and lower feelings of depression (3). Walking outdoors also gives you the benefit of soaking up vitamin D from the sun, which is important, seeing as how vitamin D affects over 27,000 genes in the body.
Research from the University of Georgia also found that people who walked just 15-20 minutes a day reported feeling more energetic and less fatigued (4). Blood flow increases when we walk, which in turn increases the body’s ability to create energy. Sitting for too long can just make you feel groggy and lazy, so make sure you get up for a little while and go for a little stroll in your neighbourhood, or better yet, the nearest forest.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Although you may have aches and pains, and walking might sound like the last thing you want to do, it actually helps. Walking strengthens the bones and connective tissues, increasing blood and nutrient supplies to places in the body that need it in order to heal. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “if you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration (5).”
Exercise, like walking, helps boost the effect of natural sleep hormones like melatonin (6). However, working out too close to bed time might be a little too stimulating, so if you are going to workout, make sure you keep it to a nice 15 minutes stroll after supper.