How often do you exercise? Many people opt out of a regular physical activity schedule, citing a lack of time or energy to do so. With work commitments, personal responsibilities, and the hustle and bustle of daily life, finding time to exercise or take a walk may be difficult.
But what if you knew that you didn’t have to work out for an extended period of time to enjoy an effective routine? What if it was possible to reap huge benefits from even small, low-impact, relaxed forms of exercise? It sounds far-fetched, but it’s true! All you need is a short walk to get your body going. Here are seven health benefits of taking a 15-minute walk every day.
1. Your Metabolism Increases
A 10-15 minute walk doesn’t strike anyone as a very long walk. In fact, it’s probably all the time you need to get to and fro from the nearest bus stop! But even just a leisurely stroll to your favorite park can mean all the difference when it comes to increasing your metabolism rates.
This is because walking, no matter how short a trip, is a form of cardio exercise – the most efficient activity for increasing your metabolism. And that carries a whole host of benefits with it! For example:
Studies have shown that the positive effects of 10-minute walks can be accumulated. In other words, short walks here and there whenever possible can lower your body’s harmful cholesterol levels – which is a pretty significant impact on your health you’d want to take advantage of.
· It Helps Blood Sugar
Need to control your blood sugar? As it turns out, a 15-minute walk can help with that. It turns out, 15-minute jaunts to the diner’s and back are just as effective as controlling blood sugar as one long exercise routine. Granted, the research shows that you’ll have to repeat those short walks at least thrice a day to get the full benefits – but that’s a worthwhile exchange for an exercise routine that can otherwise be daunting for many.
· It Adds More Steps To Your Day
It’s easy to forget that every step counts on your pedometer – and a brisk, 15-minute walk contains a surprising amount of steps. More specifically, it will have about 2,000 steps – a solid tenth of the recommended 10,000 steps you’re supposed to take each day. And that’s before you’ve taken into account the normal walking you do to get to places! As long as you keep a fast pace, science says that you can still reap the health benefits that arise from walking!
2. You Get Less Joint Pain
You would think that constantly pounding the hard pavement would be bad for your joints. Surprisingly, this isn’t actually the case – within reason.
A study showed that short, collective walks adding up to about an hour of walking every week could have a positive impact on your range of motion and your mobility – even if you have arthritis or chronic pain!
As it turns out, the increased blood flow to muscles around your joints caused by walking can help strengthen those muscles. Once your muscles are better strengthened, your flexibility and mobility increase accordingly! And better yet – this works even if all you can achieve every day is about 10 minutes of walking. Every minute counts!
3. You’ll Feel More Energetic
It’s not just wishful positive thinking dreamt up by exercise fanatics.
If you’re sleep-deprived and find yourself nodding off even as you’re reading this, the solution doesn’t have to be coffee. Because, as this study discovered, a quick 15-minute jog (or shorter) up the stairs can actually be more energizing than caffeine!
This may seem strange at first, considering the act of walking is supposed to tire you out – but there are a few good reasons for this:
- It increases oxygen flow in the body, which makes you more alert
- It gets your heart pumping, jolting your body into action
- It produces hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol – all hormones that increase energy levels in the body
4. Your Brain Works Better
One thing cardio exercises do is increase blood flow and oxygen levels in the body. Even a brief, intense walk to your car in the parking lot can elevate your heart rate to levels you need for better health – all without exercising.
There are more benefits you get with increased oxygen intake, too, even in short bursts. For example:
· You Get More Creative
Creativity and exercise seem like the last two things to have anything to do with each other. And yet, a study shows that they do! Even if you sit down right after your walk, you’ll still receive a noticeable boost in creativity. So if you find yourself dealing with a creative roadblock, try going for a short walk. It might be just what you need.
· Your Mood Will Lift
Positive thinking can be tricky, even at the best of times. Luckily, walking can help with that! A study found that a short walk can make you feel better – even if you weren’t expecting it to do that. So if you find yourself feeling down, go for a quick walk to counteract it!
· You Have Better Cognitive Performance
If you find yourself thinking better while pacing about, it’s not your imagination. Researchers discovered that people walking while trying to solve problems or issues performed better than when they had to stay still.
· You Achieve More Goals
Goals are essentially pie-in-the-sky dreams until you actually take persistent, achievable steps towards them. And the most efficient way to stay on track? Routines – which, shockingly, is something walking can help with. Establishing a habit, even with short walks, creates a robust framework in your life. This then makes it easier to practice healthy behaviors and achieve goals you may have!
5. You’ll Enjoy Better Sleep
We all know how important it is that we get 8 hours of sleep every night. But just because you know that it’s good for you doesn’t mean you can get it. And even then, you’re not guaranteed to get good quality sleep either.
But how does walking, even for a brief 15 minutes, help with this?
· You Get Better Sleep
A study found that doing light exercise like walking is correlated with an increase in better sleep quality and longer sleep duration. Inversely, being sedentary led to poorer and shorter sleep – something you can, thankfully, avoid by just doing some short walks every day!
· Sleep Comes Easier
Walking, even for short periods of time, can help burn off any excess energy that may be hindering you from sleeping. As a result, you fall asleep faster – and, because you no longer have restless energy keeping you up, sleep more soundly.
· Less Stress And Pain
Some of the biggest hurdles towards getting a good night’s sleep are pain and stress. Thankfully, walking not only helps ease your stress levels but may also soothe any ails and aches you may have. This means that you no longer will be disturbed by these two factors that will otherwise disrupt restful sleep come night.
So if you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night, try to go for a walk first. You may not need that sleeping pill after all!
6. Your Immunity Improves
Find yourself constantly the first victim come flu season? If you haven’t already figured it out by now, you may have a flawed immune system. And the easiest way to strengthen it is via exercise like walking. But just what exactly can short walks do for you?
· It Reduces Flu and Cold Risk
If you’re fitter, as one study found out, then you’re less likely to develop a cold or catch the flu bug. This is especially so when you’re doing aerobic exercise – which walking counts as! While you’d ideally want to hit 30 to 45 minutes of walking a day, even just a short walk of 10 to 15 minutes every day can contribute to your overall resilience against illnesses!
· It Makes You Feel Better In General
Walking, even for just 15 minutes, can help loosen muscles and get the blood pumping. It also forces you to readjust your posture into a much healthier one. The result? You’ll likely find yourself feeling better physically, which can be a contributing difference between struggling with an illness or recovering faster!
· It Reduces Allergic Reactions
If you’re struggling with seasonal allergies, walking may help. Research tells us that walking in winter, even for 15 minutes at a time, can reduce allergic reactions and inflammation in people. If you can get away with some walking, it may even help during allergen seasons as well!
Thankfully, short, daily walks are enough to get what you need. And it doesn’t have to be anywhere special, either – just walking around your favorite shopping mall while you window shop can be more than enough!
7. You’ll Live Longer
It’s easy to assume that 15 minutes of walking a day is just too little. How can a quick walk around the block every day really have enough of an impact? It turns out you’d be wrong about that.
A study has shown that even if you don’t achieve the ideal amount of moderate exercise a week, every little thing counts. Older patients in the study found that doing some exercise daily gave them significant health benefits compared to doing nothing.
This sort of jump in health improvements contributes to a healthier, better-functioning body and mind as you get older. And don’t worry – this benefit can start accruing at any time. In other words, it all does add up – no matter how insignificant it may seem at first!
It’s not uncommon for people to think that working out must involve a rigorous, hour-long routine of going all out at the gym. While that’s a good, healthy way to build muscle and fitness, it’s also not something everyone can do, especially for those with mobility challenges. And, of course, most would rather dedicate their precious few moments of free time to their hobbies or interests.
So instead of aiming for a long routine, take a few 15-minute walks! Even if it doesn’t seem like much, you’ll be doing your body a significant favor.