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Why Walking is the Best Exercise

Walking might not seem like the most effective way to get fit, but – surprise – it is! Walking is gentle, low impact, super convenient, and free – and it’s suitable for almost everyone.

Here’s why you should walk your way to better health:

Weight Loss

Walking won’t give you rippling biceps or shredded abs, but it can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Encouraged by studies showing that people who go for regular strolls around the block tend to be thinner than those who don’t, researchers set out to see if there was a connection. In a review study, they found that walking regularly resulted in weight loss – an average of just over a pound a week [1]. You can increase weight loss by incorporating strength training, such as light ankle or hand held weights, into your walks.

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Cardiovascular Health

There’s no doubt about it, walking is good for the heart. Pounding the pavement has often been shown to positively impact several factors associated with heart health, including increasing VO2 max while decreasing body weight, BMI, percent body fat and resting diastolic blood pressure [2]. Walking also helps reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol [3].

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Strong Bones

Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, is important in the maintenance of strong, healthy bones. Evidence suggests that walking and other forms of physical exercise can increase bone density, which helps mitigate the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.

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Better Mood

Ever get back from a brisk walk with colour in your cheeks, fresh air in your lungs, and a smile on your face? Exercise releases endorphins, and spending time in nature can have a positive effect on mood. One study suggests that walking – much like meditation – shifts the body into a parasympathetic state of rest and relaxation, helping to improve both psychological and physical symptoms.

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Immune Boost

The next time you feel a sniffle coming on, consider taking the dog to the park – you might just be giving your immune system the boost it needs! Research shows that walking increased white blood cells known as neutrophils and natural killer cells for a short time.

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References:

[1] Richardson, C.R., Newton, T.L., Abraham, J.J., Sen, A., Jimbo, M., Swartz, A.M. (2008). A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss. Ann Fam Med, 6(1):69-77.

[2]Murphy, M.H., Nevill, A.M., Murtagh, E.M., Holder, R.L. (2007). The effect of walking on fitness, fatness and resting blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomised, controlled trials. Preventive Medicine, 44:5.

[3] Kelley, G.A., Kelley, K.S., Tran, Z.V. (2004). Walking, lipids, and lipoproteins: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Preventive Medicine, 38:5.