Aside from a good pair of walking shoes, most of us don’t need any special equipment to go for a walk. And since you can walk almost anywhere, on your own schedule, walking is the perfect low-impact exercise. You might already be walking on a regular basis to manage your weight, but here are five more great reasons to go for a daily walk.
Boost brain health. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise is linked to growth of the hippocampus, the part of your brain that is responsible for memory. Even just one exercise session has been shown to increase brain activity associated with memory. Over the long term, regular exercise results in improved cognitive function.
Get better sleep. Those who exercise regularly show a reduction in insomnia and night waking, the most common sleep disturbances. If that exercise takes place outdoors, the effects are even more dramatic, because exposure to sunlight helps to regulate circadian rhythms (sleeping and waking cycles).
Improve emotional health. Daily exercise has repeatedly shown to reduce depression and anxiety. This effect is especially pronounced in those who tend to be more affected by stress.
Protect your vision. Surprisingly, studies have even linked physical activity to improved eye health. A study from Sweden, published in the journal Ophthalmology, showed that 60 minutes of walking or biking daily is associated with a decreased risk of cloudy lenses. Research from UCLA showed that those who are most physically active reduce their risk of glaucoma by 73 percent over the long term!
Extend your life. Because a daily walk helps you to manage weight, ward off many chronic diseases, and boost mental and emotional health, all of these effects add up to a longer life span. Numerous scientific studies have underscored the link between regular physical activity, even something as simple as walking, and a reduced risk of mortality from all causes.
If you haven’t exercised regularly in the past, it’s never too late to start! But do remember to consult your doctor first, so that they can screen you for underlying conditions that might make exercise a challenge and guide you toward safe exercise practices.