Walking saved my life. No joke! I used to exert so much effort into doing cardio, body building, and at least an hour of panicking everyday. What kind of a way is that to live? What I really needed was to walk it out. Walking is a great way to relieve stress and improve mood. It’s also a great for your physical health, and is adjustable for many athletic levels.

Stress Fighter and Mood-Booster

When I feel stressed, tired, or restless, I get up and get walking! For me, walking relieves stress, elevates my mood, and ups my energy level. According to the Mayo Clinic’s article Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health, they agree that walking can improve people's moods. When you compare sitting on the couch in a dark room with a brisk walk through the prairie sunshine, it makes sense. Add in the endorphins from walking, and you’ve got yourself a smile. When I walk, I get out of my mental rut by changing my surroundings. I have the power to surround myself with beauty (thanks to green spaces), to move, and to set and accomplish goals.

Healthy Bod, Happy You

In terms of physical health, walking may not be cardio, but don’t write it off. Walking is still a healthy practice! Taking the time to regularly walk for fitness supports healthy bones and joints, helps keep weight in a healthy range, and can prevent a few important heart health concerns. Moving the body uses bones and joints that go mostly unused during the work day. Joints especially love walking, which stimulates joint fluid circulation, according to the Arthritis Foundation’s 12 Benefits of Walking. Furthermore, walking burns calories to help regulate body weight, and gently tones walking muscles and the core. As for preventative care, walking aids cardiovascular health in a number of facets. According to Harvard Health Publishing, in Walking: Your steps to health, keeping to the 3 studies' specific walking routines, Harvard found that their participants had lowered rates of death, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes. While walking may seem like a less extreme type of exercise, it can have beneficial and preventative implications in the body.

Mix It Up!

Not only is walking healthy, but it's completely adjustable to different fitness levels. Depending on my concerns, I can take it slow, or work up a sweat. If I had a lot of pressure on my joints and ankles, I might take it easy and walk in the pool to ease stress. On the other hand, I can kick it up a notch and power walk, power walk intervals, or hike different terrains. There are even walking groups for people who have interests in competitive walking or social walking. When I have the time, I love taking my fitness routine off-road and hiking up a mountain, or at my local forest preserve. Walking can be useful for even the most competitive athletes. It's good for everyone to have recovery days. Taking a brisk walk and stretching is a great way to exercise and loosen muscles, while letting the body recover from demanding workouts. There's so many ways to walk, depending on individual needs!

Taking a walk is so much more than basic transportation - it supports emotional and physical health, and is great for any fitness level. When I get outside and walk, I know I'll feel better in all of these ways and more. Grab a friend and get walking today!