This September my company had us join the STEPtember Challenge. Which incentives employees and the like to take 10,000 steps a day in September to raise money for cerebral palsy research. I have been wearing a Fitbit for years and well exceed the 10,000 daily goals but I know that is not the case for a majority of people. Many people do not realize the power of walking. Therefore, I have gathered created a list of 5 benefits of walking that should motivate you to get up and start walking:

Live long and prosper
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

1. Live Long and Prosper

Study after study has found that even daily walks are able to lower mortality and reduce the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. And for those under cancer treatment, by walking they are able to improve their chances of recovery and survival significantly. Researchers even say that speed can play a large part in the positive effects of walking, noting that fast walkers live around 10-15 years longer than slow walkers.

Walk off the weight

2. Walk off the Weight

If you have gotten this far in my blog, then you know that fitness is an important aspect of weight loss. I am sure walking was not your first thought to kicking off the pounds…was it? Walking might not be the number one way to lose pounds off your waistline, but it is a good place to start and only requires a comfortable pair of shoes. By adding 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine, you could burn around 150 more calories a day. Of course, the more you walk and the quicker your pace, the more calories you’ll burn.

Keep your figure

3. Keep Your Figure

Not only can walking help you lose weight but it can also help you maintain a healthy weight and build muscle. According to Pierre Dukan, Nutrition and Dietetics expert, walking can produce both primary and secondary muscle groups including:

  • Hamstrings: located in the back of the thigh, the hamstring moves your leg backward
  • Quads: as the front of the thighs, this is by far the biggest muscle in the body. They raise and push forward the thigh and leg
  • Hamstrings: located in the back of the thigh, the hamstring moves your leg backward
  • Booty: the buttock muscles are very powerful and bulky, their job is to complete the backward movement of the step. When these muscle masses sag, this shows that they are not being used enough for their primary functions, which is walking!
  • Tummy: the stomach muscles contract with each step
  • Calves: calf muscles are smaller, but among the most heavily used muscles when you take a step. Walking on tippy toes or up steps can produce even larger muscle growth
  • Pelvis: the pelvis stabilizing muscles form a muscular crown around the pelvis and include the external abductors, the internal abductors, the front abdominals and back spinal muscles
  • Symmetrical Tibialis Anterior: located in the front of the calf, these raise the foot up so that is doesn’t flatten or scrape the ground as you stride
  • Arm and Shoulders: the arms and shoulder play in a lot less but during power walking can build up a great deal

4. Get the Creative Juices Flowing

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

What is it about walking that gets the creative juices flowing? Science has confirmed that walking does awaken creative ability. In a study done by Stanford University, researchers found that walking boosts creative output by 60%. The effect is not simply due to the increased perpetual stimulation of moving through an environment, but rather it is due to walking. Whether one is outdoors or on a treadmill, walking improves ideation and the effect even extends to after the walk when you have sat down again.

The next time your brain is fried, take a page out of Steve Jobs or Nikola Tesla’s book who insisted on “walking meetings” and enjoyed long daily walks in the city park to juice up their creative inventions. As well as dozens of famous authors — Henry David Thoreau, L.M. Montgomery, J.K. Rowling, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few — have said that walking is the only reliable cure to writer’s block.

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5. Be Happy. (And Stressfree)

Within just 5-minutes of cardiovascular exercise, you will begin to feel happier! What triggers this happiness?

Fast Company published an article back in 2014 around what happens to our brains when we exercise and how it makes us happier, which still rings true today. At the start of exercising your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. Your heart pressure will begin to increase and the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. In order to protect yourself and your brain from stress, your body releases BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that has a protective and reparative element to your memory neurons. At the same time, endorphins, which tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise and block the feelings of pain, are also released in your brain and give you a feeling of euphoria. In the end both the BDNF and endorphins are the reasons why exercise makes you feel so good and can be somewhat addictive in behavior.

The best part is that you can get started today, with just a pair of comfortable shoes and to get yourself outside or on a treadmill. Depending on your schedule you can choose to walk one large walk or several short walks a day. Short walks can be mini 15-minute breaks during the workday, parking your car in the back of the supermarket parking lot or taking the stairs instead of an elevator. How will you begin your walking challenge?