When you lead a busy life, it's easy to omit exercise to stay a little later at the office or spend quality time with your family. But if you're able to squeeze 40 minutes of walking into each day, you're doing yourself a favor. A daily walk provides wide-ranging benefits that can positively impact your life.
If you struggle with your weight but don't have the energy to devote to a vigorous type of exercise, walking is an effective way to help you burn calories to lose fat. You'll burn more calories if you're able to maintain a fast walking pace, but even while walking slowly, this exercise burns calories steadily. Harvard Medical School reports that a 185-pound person who walks at just 4 miles per hour will burn about 267 calories during a 40-minute walk.
It can be difficult to get the recommended amount of exercise each week, but taking a 40-minute walk even five days a week helps you easily surpass the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' exercise recommendations for adults. The department advises getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week for optimal health. If you take a 40-minute walk seven days a week, you're getting over two hours more exercise than the recommended minimum.
On the surface, walking might not seem as though it provides as many health benefits as an exercise such as jogging or swimming, but don't discount the efficacy of this simple activity. MayoClinic.com notes that walking can lower your bad cholesterol levels, raise your good cholesterol levels, decrease your blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Australia's Better Health Channel lists other benefits of walking as strengthening your bones, improving your endurance and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Beyond the physical benefits of walking, this activity provides benefits that can boost your mental well-being. During exercise, your body releases endorphins, which improve your mood. "Arthritis Today" magazine notes that walking can also keep your mind sharp, lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and can even improve the deepness with which you sleep. If you've had a stressful day at work, taking a 40-minute walk in the evening can clear your mind and help you relax.
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- MayoClinic.com: Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health
- Better Health Channel: Walking for Good Health
- Arthritis Today: Mental Benefits of Walking
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.