During the pandemic, the need for exercise to improve physical activity and mental health has gained much more traction than before. The internet was flooded with workout videos and gyms began holding online classes, which made exercising a lot more accessible. People now had the freedom to design their own workout routines, based on their mood and personal schedule, no longer being conditioned by the physical presence at a certain location.
However, even with all this improved accessibility to workouts, most of people still find it difficult to incorporate exercising into their lives because of various reasons, such as a busy schedule, wanting to spend more time with family, lack of space and the list can go on.
So how can we actually include exercising into our lives, to make sure that we can enjoy all the health benefits it brings?
Well, the good news is that it is not actually that difficult to do it and that most of us are probably doing it already, without even knowing. And that’s because walking turns out to be one of the most easy and efficient ways to incorporate movement into your daily life. It’s something we do every day without too much effort, which has proven benefits not only for our bodies, but also for our mental health, with many studies revealing that walking can help reduce anxiety, the risk of depression and other neurological affections and greatly contributes to the improvement of our general mood.
But there’s a science behind walking and how we can make it work in our advantage. The American Academy of Neurology has conducted a series of studies on the subject and reached the conclusion that “the highest level of fitness can be achieved by walking briskly most days”.
While popular culture has advertised for some time that people should aim for the proverbial 10,000 steps a day, it seems that it’s not the step count that matters, but the intensity of the walk, with shorter, but faster walking sessions bringing the most health improvements. It all comes down to increasing your heart rate, which will determine your body to oxygenate your muscles better, including you brain, and to improve your blood circulation, which will lead to lowering your cholesterol and burning more calories.
On the long term, sustaining this habit will help reduce the risk of cancer, neurological and cardiovascular diseases, while also helping you burn more calories in the process. And all this with just 10 to 20 minutes of brisk walking every day!
Photo credit: Pexels – Photo by Pille Kirsi