Walking may not be as celebrated as more intense forms of exercise. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that walking is a physical activity that gets your body moving, your muscles working together, and your heart pumping. And, despite its low intensity, walking is actually one of the best things you can do for your body; science says so! Because it’s low impact, walking may allow people who experience hip, leg, back, or joint pain to participate with guidance from their doctor.
Healthline notes the calorie burn anyone can get from walking based on their weight and speed: A 180-pound person on a leisurely walk of 2.0 miles per hour can shed 204 calories in an hour, and bumping up the pace to a brisker walk of 3.5 mph burns 311 calories. Add a walk to your morning routine, and you could even get a metabolism boost throughout the day (per Time).
The moral of the story? Get a walk in daily, if possible. When you do, you’ll notice some incredible, positive changes happening to your body.
Your bones get denser
Low bone density may be a sign of osteoporosis, which exists when bones lose mass, becoming weak and brittle. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 10.2 million people 50 years of age and older in the United States have osteoporosis, and the overwhelming majority of them are women.
However, daily walking could actually prevent osteoporosis. WebMD explains that aerobic exercise may contribute to healthier bones. As an aerobic exercise, walking fits the bill. When you walk, you support your body weight with your legs, which could, in turn, prevent bone loss by strengthening your bones. Of course, it’s also important to target your other bones too, which is why combining strength training with a walking routine is beneficial.
But if you can only fit in walking, stick to that. Research from an older study in The American Journal of Medicine found higher bone density in healthy postmenopausal women who walked just one mile a day compared to women who walked less than that amount.
Your heart gets healthier
There are a lot of factors that contribute to your overall heart health, like blood pressure, inflammation, and muscle strength. Interestingly, walking each day can potentially target most of them, leading to a healthy, happy heart.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, aerobics, like walking, combined with a strength training routine can strengthen muscles. When your muscles get stronger, they become more efficient at moving oxygen through the blood, putting less strain on your heart. Exercises like walking can also slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and decrease inflammation, all of which are heart-healthy processes.
Your walking speed might even indicate how healthy your heart is. Preventive cardiologist Haitham Ahmed explained to the Cleveland Clinic the results of a study published in the European Heart Journal, saying, "The study found that people who were brisk walkers had significantly lower cardiac and all-cause death, which makes sense, because those people have higher cardiorespiratory fitness." Dr. Ahmed also noted that people who believe their walking speed has been slowing down over time might be experiencing their heart signaling that there’s a problem.