Walking for Just 30 Minutes 3 Times per Week Unlocks a Bounty of Heart Health and Mental Health Benefits
Though April Fool’s Day tends to steal the spotlight, April 1 is also National Walk to Work Day! National Walk to Work Day raises awareness of the many health benefits of incorporating about thirty minutes of walking a day into your normal routine.
The Health Benefits of Walking More
Like drinking a cup of green tea every day, walking 30 minutes a day at least three times a week is an easy way to boost your health. Walking is perhaps the most accessible form of cardiovascular exercise. You don’t need a gym membership or fancy gear to get started, and though it’s less physically demanding than alternatives like running, walking can be a better workout option because it’s easier to maintain consistently.
When you make walking, thus exercise, a consistent habit, your body will reward you with better health. Some of the health benefits of adopting a walking habit include:
- Improved sleep quality
- Better endurance, energy, and stamina
- Reduced body fat and improved muscle strength and tone
- Reduced cholesterol
- Reduced risk of stroke and heart disease
- Stronger bones
- Better balance
Besides being a great form of exercise that can slip seamlessly into your daily routine, walking more throughout your day is a particularly great way to take care of your heart and mind.
Heart Health Benefits of Walking
Adding more walking to your day is a great way to strengthen heart health. Walking, like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, gets more oxygen to your heart and helps manage hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and reduces risk of stroke.
Not only can 30 minutes of walking daily reduce risk of coronary heart disease by 19%, but in addition, the more you walk, the lower your risk. One study in the UK even found that walking to work reduced rates of death related to cardiovascular disease by 31% when compared to inactive forms of commuting, like driving.
Walking at a faster pace can even reduce risk of early death. Research has found that increasing the pace of your walking speed to at least 4 miles per hour reduces all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease-related mortality.
Mental Health Benefits of Walking
Want more peace of mind and clarity of thought? Walking for just 30 minutes three times a week is enough to unlock these and other mental health benefits of walking. Like other cardiovascular exercises, walking boosts your body’s production of the “feel good hormones” called endorphins, making walking a great way to relieve stress, improve your mood and self-esteem, and reduce anxiety and depression.
If morning walks fit best with your schedule, you may find yourself more alert and with more energy throughout the day as a result. Getting natural light first thing in the morning tells your body to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy at night, while increasing oxygen flow through your body elevates your energy levels.
Walking can even improve the quality of your thoughts. Research has shown that walking outdoors stimulates a free flow of ideas, generating more creative thinking. Since taking a walk is a great way to process ideas and come up with new ones, make it a habit to hit the pavement when you need to think through a problem, like during coffee breaks at work.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Walk
For best results, walk at a brisk pace (4 miles per hour). You can break one 30-minute walk into three 10-minute walks to make building a walking routine more manageable while retaining the health benefits of walking. And if you have a dog, bring them along! Walking is great for dogs too, and their motivation will stay strong even on days when yours wavers.
Celebrating National Walk to Work Day Even if You Have a Texas-Sized Commute
Now, depending on your commute, walking to work may sound more akin to setting forth on an epic quest than making an easy 30-minute healthy choice. If you work too far away to walk to work, embrace the spirit of National Walk to Work Day and find an alternate routine to replace with walking. After all, walking more throughout your day can set you on the path to better living no matter the destination.
Here are some ideas to get more walking in during the day if replacing your morning commute isn’t practical:
- Park farther away than usual for more walking time between the car and your destination.
- Walk to run errands instead of driving when possible.
- Start tracking your steps, and find a friend to compete against for the highest daily or weekly step count.
- Find parts of your routine that can be combined with walking. Coffee breaks, lunch breaks, and phone calls that don’t require you to be in front of a computer are all easy ways to improve your step count.
For more health-related topics, tips, and recipes, make sure to follow along with our Hospitality Health ER blog. We’ve recently covered other simple ways to boost your health in “The Top Five Ways Getting Enough Magnesium Can Improve Your Day” and “The Health Benefits of Green Tea.” For giveaways, updates, and COVID-19 tips, like us on Facebook and Instagram.