The Powerful Benefits of Walking


Walk by Peter Blanchard, on Flickr
Photo by Peter Blanchard (CC BY 2.0

Written by Raymond Salas

Some of the simplest things are the most powerful.

Walking is a perfect example of this.

Personally, I love walking (compared to other forms of exercise) because:
  • It is easy to do (i.e., doesn’t require any special skill or practice).
  • It requires no equipment (except maybe comfortable shoes, although some people prefer to walk bare-footed wherever it is convenient).
  • It has numerous physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual benefits.
  • And, it can be done alone or with others.


The Powerful Benefits of Walking


Numerous studies have proven the powerful benefits of walking including:
  • Helps control weight and successfully manage it.
  • Helps control blood pressure.
  • Decreases the risk of heart attack.
  • Boosts the levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”) and reduces the levels of LDL (“bad cholesterol”).
  • Helps promote longevity.
  • Decreases the risk of stroke.
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer.
  • Helps prevent colon cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes.
  • Helps prevent depression by improving mood and sense of well-being.
  • Enhances the immune system.
  • Reduces the risk of gallstones.
  • Helps relieve arthritis.
  • Reduces the risk of hip fractures.
  • Helps relieve back pain.
  • Strengthens the muscles, joints, and bones.
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Improves circulation throughout the body.
  • Helps prevent constipation.
  • Helps prevent impotence.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Lowers stress levels.
  • Improves breathing.
  • Boosts energy levels.
  • Exercises the brain by increasing the blood circulation, oxygen, and glucose to it.
  • Improves memory.

Walking as Meditation


I have found walking to be a powerful form of meditation. It is a great opportunity to practice “mindfulness,” keeping a focus only on the present moment. Often when walking as a meditation, I silently repeat “relax and breathe” as I do so. Other phrases such as "here now," or "let go now" can also be helpful.

How to Walk for Greatest Benefit

To receive the greatest benefit from walking, being consistent is the key.
Experts recommend walking for 30 minutes, 5 times a week.

Your walking speed is important too. You should be able to maintain a conversation while walking briskly. If you are breathing too lightly, simply increase your pace. If you are having trouble “catching” your breath, then slow down.


Tips for Adding More Walking Into Your Life


Here are some tips for increasing your daily amount of walking and “getting your walk on."
  • Park your car in the farthest spots to give yourself the opportunity to walk as much as possible.
  • Take the stairs wherever possible.
  • Walk after meals whenever possible.
  • Walk to your daily errands (grocery shopping, post office, etc.) whenever possible.

Quotes on the Benefits of Walking

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” - Soren Kierkegaard 

“I've been through every diet under the sun, and I can tell you that getting up, getting out, and walking is always the first goal.” - Oprah Winfrey 

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” - Henry David Thoreau 

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking” - Friedrich Nietzsche 

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” - George Macauley Trevelyan 

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir 

“It is not talking but walking that will bring us to heaven.” - Matthew Henry

“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.” - Raymond Inmon 

“Meandering leads to perfection.” - Lao Tzu 

“Happy is the man who has acquired the love of walking for its own sake!” - W.J. Holland 

“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” - Aldous Huxley 

“Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility.” - Gary Snyder 

“After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value.” - George Macauley Trevelyan 

“Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.” - J.K. Rowling 

“The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.” - Jacqueline Schiff 

“Of all exercises walking is the best.” - Thomas Jefferson 

“Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment.” - Thich Nhat Hanh 

“It is good to collect things; it is better to take walks.” - Anatole France 

“Walking is good for solving problems - it's like the feet are little psychiatrists.” - Pepper Giardino 

“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” - Paul Dudley White 

“It is solved by walking.” - Latin proverb 

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-three today and we don't know where the hell she is.” - Ellen DeGeneres


So now...if someone ever tells you to “take a hike,” it’s actually a good thing. 

Be grateful for the reminder.