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Walking – the Most Underrated Exercise

Author: Dr. Rehan Lakhani, ND

Dr. Rehan is a Collingwood naturopath who provides evidence-based care to those struggling with inflammation, weight management, chronic pain, fatigue, and all things gut health. Click here to schedule a free consult with Dr. Rehan.

When we bring up walking as an integral part of a healthy life, people seems surprised! Walking has a reputation of being boring and benign – so simple and obvious it’s rarely considered in one’s routine. WRONG! Regular walking is one of the most powerful things you can add to your daily life. We recommend it every single day in our practice to almost everyone. It’s a great place to start if you’re unsure of how to begin your fitness journey, and it’s also a great warm up or active recovery option for seasoned athletes. You should aim to steadily increase your pace and distance walked over time, as the positive effects only increase the more you partake. Here are some of the surprising benefits of this humble movement.

1. Weight Loss

Regular walking can actually burn fat, and help maintain your desired weight. It can also counteract the effects of weight promoting genes – in a Harvard study, walking at a quick pace for about an hour a day cut the effects of the weight-causing genes in half.

2. Immune Boosting

Walking increases blood flow & circulation, reduces stress and inflammation (which suppresses your immune system), and helps strengthen antibodies, all of which help your immune cells to function optimally.

3. Stress, Depression and Anxiety Reduction

Walking is a great stress reliever, physically and mentally, for a variety of reasons. Having some meditative quiet time to yourself in nature or walking with friends or family to promote social connection both help with mental stress. Walking releases endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters that promote a positive feeling. In general, it improves your mood, combatting symptoms of depression and anxiety.

4. Reduces Sugar Cravings

Studies showed that even a 15 minute walk was shown to reduce cravings for chocolate, and even reduced how much you ate. That has been extended to other sugary snacks, and the effects are similar! If you’re dealing with an intense craving, try going for a walk first before you decide.

5. Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Overall, any physical activity can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Walking has been studied specifically, and they discovered that walking seven+ hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer vs. those who only walked three or fewer hours a week. That alone is reason enough to get out there!

6. Reduces Joint Pain, and Strengthens Bones and Muscles

It’s very important to keep moving with arthritis, and walking can be a wonderful and low impact activity for those experiencing pain. It improves bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, keeps joints flexible, reduces that feeling of stiffness, and maintains muscle mass around the joints to protect them.

Do you walk regularly? If not, now’s a great time to start!

Having an individualized treatment plan made for your specific case is a great option to help reduce pain, lose weight, or boost your immune system. Talk to your licensed naturopathic doctor or other healthcare practitioner about what different interventions are right for your particular case. If you are interested in booking an appointment with a Collingwood Naturopath, please book through our online booking link as we would be more than happy to work with you towards your health goals!

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