We know that we need to get moving—one of the worst things you can do to your body is sit too much—but how much activity is enough?
The good news is, you don’t need to be a marathoner in order to have a healthy dose of cardio daily. A simple 30 minute walk is all it takes to reap the many benefits of movement. Cardio of course is great for your heart and your cardiovascular health, but here are a few of the other benefits of a short walk a day.
“Walking helps to improve circulation by strengthening our second heart. The second heart is a group of muscles, veins and valves located in our calf and foot,” explains Dr. Luis Navarro, Founder of The Vein Treatment Center. “With every step that we take, we push blood back up to our heart.”
Those steps help improve our circulation and promotes healthy blood flow from our heart to our limbs, brain and everywhere in between. This is why short walk breaks are stressed for those who sit for long periods of time (especially long car rides or plane rides), so that blood keeps circulating and blood clots do not form (some are more at risk for this than others). So get that blood moving!
When we think of losing weight, it is easy to think of super sweaty high intensity workouts. But, that isn’t always the case. Walking regularly can actually help do the trick.
“Walking helps to promote a healthy heart and circulation, and also increases our metabolism which will help to bring down weight,” shares Dr. Navarro. “Since it strengthens that second heart to promote healthy blood flow, when our circulation and metabolism are active, weight comes down. This healthy blood flow can also help to decrease aches and swelling in the legs.”
Boosting your metabolism in order to curb cravings, improve sleep and improve circulation are all a part of weight loss. If you are looking to make strides toward losing weight but aren’t at the high mileage or activity of a marathoner, start by setting the simple goal of walking 30 minutes a day.
Loosening Stiff Joints
Stiff joints and muscles can lead to problems down the road such as arthritis and more, so walking daily can help minimize your risk in the future.
“A 30 minute walk per day is an excellent way to promote healthy, flexible joints by stimulating synovial fluid to bring nutrients to the joints,” notes Dr. Armin Tehrany, Founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care. “In addition, the gentle, natural weight bearing process of walking can create better muscle strength and balance around the joints as well. This can diminish the likelihood and progression of osteoarthritis.”
These benefits are not unique to those who are starting from square one; even if you are following a training plan or regularly work out, you should still be taking advantage of the many benefits of walking.
Even if you are an avid runner, should you still try to walk 30 minutes a day on your rest days? “Walking for runners on their rest days is not only acceptable…I encourage it,” notes Dr. Tehrany.