WAlking is finally getting the recognition it deserves. The past three pandemic years have put our step counts in the spotlight: perhaps as the ultimate form of accessible exercise for our mental and physical health, walking is a way to get out of our homes and breathe some fresh air while moving our bodies. Can even connect with a friend. In 2022 specifically, walking really had its moment—in the form of not one but two TikTok trends.
First, the trend of Silly Little Walks was to savor the strange simplicity of walking in our overstimulated world. Then Hot Girl Walk said Nuh-uh, don’t slow down the walk! It is an opportunity to find strength within ourselves through our gratitude, our dreams and our warmth. Both trends have resonated with millions of TikTok viewers, causing even more people to fall in love with walking.
And for good reason. Last year, we highlighted five reasons why walking is so good for you, highlighting the benefits to your cardiovascular system, muscles, brain, mood and mental health. But in 2022 we cover new ways and research on why, in Tina Turner’s iconic words, walking is best.
Here are eight reasons why we fell in love with walking all over again in 2022.
1. It efficiently improves cardiorespiratory fitness
Just 17 minutes of brisk walking per day is associated with increased cardiorespiratory fitness, which is “the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the body’s muscles and organs during physical activity,” according to Michael Weinrauch, MD, a New Jersey-based cardiologist. Basically, you have the power to energize your body through what you do. Higher cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with lower cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
2. It is associated with improved brain health
A study of people in their 80s found that those who exercised regularly, including walking, had fewer signs of brain inflammation and degenerative aging. “Physical activity is associated with improved cognitive aging and reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases,” the researchers wrote.
3. It is associated with longevity
A study of 47,000 adults found that power walking for just 10 minutes a day was associated with lower mortality. And the more people walked, the lower their rates: Increasing moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity by 10, 20, or 30 minutes per day was associated with a 6.9 percent, 13 percent, and 16.9 percent reduction in the number of deaths, respectively. years, respectively.
4. It can help with gut health and digestion, especially for people with IBS
Walking can help with digestion, and it appears to be a great way to alleviate flare-ups for people with IBS. It reduces stress and inflammation, while promoting better sleep, all of which help manage IBS symptoms.
5. It’s a full body workout
Your quads, glutes and hamstrings must be working when you walk. But did you know that your core and upper back are also getting some action? Good walking form means your abs are supporting your body and keeping your pelvis stable, while bent arms swing, engaging your back muscles and powering you forward. This makes walking a true full-body workout.
6. It can give you the same cardio benefits as jogging—but easier on your joints
The myth that running is “better” than walking has been thoroughly debunked. Walking with intervals at a brisk pace, or incorporating some incline, can get your heart rate up and engage your muscles without stressing your joints, which is what running does.
7. It’s perfect cooldown
Yes, cooling down after an intense workout is really important, and walking is one of the best tools in your cooldown toolbox. Walking helps your nervous system regulate the fight-or-flight state it enters during intense exercise and initiates the rest and recovery response. It helps restore blood flow to your brain and heart while reducing brain fog.
8. It’s number 8, but actually, the benefits of walking are “immeasurable.”
Walking lowers blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, which are just three reasons Eli Friedman, MD, medical director of sports cardiology at Baptist Health’s Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute, describes the benefits of walking as “immeasurable.” Friedman also cites improved mental health and the ability to manage stress as some of the many ups and downs of walking. So whether you’re tall or short, get out for a walk today—your body and mind will thank you.