Special Report

This Is Why Walking Is the Best Exercise

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6. Better balance and coordination

As we age, our balance and coordination can decline. This occurs largely because of certain medical conditions such as arthritis and heart disease, unresolved vision problems, the effects of medications, as well as a lack of flexibility. Walking is a safe exercise that helps build up lower-body strength, which is key to good balance and coordination. Doctors suggest older people do a tightrope walk to improve balance. Tightrope walk is walking a straight line and slowly placing one foot directly in front of the other while keeping your head straight.

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7. Better circulation

It’s important, at any age, to maintain healthy blood flow. When the blood circulation is poor, muscles and tissues in the body don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients from the blood to function properly, leading to general fatigue and pain. Walking helps improve blood flow because, as you walk, you take in more oxygen, which is then moved to your muscles. This gets your heart rate up, which improves cardiovascular health, which is, of course, crucial for proper circulation.

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8. Helps fight and prevent depression

The physical benefits of exercising have been demonstrated by dozens of studies. More research is focusing on how aerobic activity benefits mental health. Moderate-intensity exercises, including walking, have also been shown to prevent depression, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Exercise is also very helpful in decreasing depressive symptoms. Some data suggest that the focus should actually be on how often a person engages in physical activity rather than on how intense the workout is.

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9. Increases alertness

Walking improves mental acuity because the aerobic exercise pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also releases chemicals such as adrenaline that boost alertness. Several studies indicate that 20 to 30 minutes of exercise before performing a mental task sharpens reaction time and improves decision making. A Stanford University study found that “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

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10. Curb stress eating

Stress eating, also known as emotional eating, is consuming food in response to feeling certain emotions. It’s probably the reason many weight loss goals fail. Stress releases hormones that make you reach out for comfort foods. Walking may be able to take care of the problem. Just 15 minutes of brisk walking has been shown to curb cravings for sugary snacks in some overweight people.

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