In this day and age, it seems like everyone is glued to their phones. We’re so used to being constantly connected that we often forget to take a break and enjoy the world around us.
One of the best ways to enjoy life and get some exercise at the same time is by walking a mile a day. Just a mile? Yeah, just a mile. You can go longer, of course, if you’d like to. But you only need to walk a mile a day to access some huge benefits for your body and your mind.
See below to learn about the 15 benefits of walking a mile a day.
1. Improve Bone Health
You might not think of your bones as dynamic, living tissue, but they are. In response to the stress of weight-bearing exercise, your bones will actually grow stronger. That’s why it’s important to get some regular exercise, like walking a mile a day. Not only will it help keep your bones healthy and strong, but it can also help prevent bone loss as you age. So get out there and start moving! Your bones will thank you for it.
2. Create Good Habits
We’re creating habits every day. Some habits are good — like brushing your teeth when you wake up and before you go to bed. And some habits are bad — like sitting on the couch to watch TV and eat ice cream.
Walking a mile a day is a great habit to create. And it’s also one of the easiest habits to build. If you were aiming to walk 5 miles a day, it would be extremely difficult to summon the motivation day in and day out. But walking a mile a day only takes a few minutes, which requires little motivation. You can make it a habit in no time.
3. Lose Weight
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2018 that 49.3 of all Americans over 20 had tried to lose weight in the previous 12 months. That’s an astonishing number. Those Americans likely tried all sorts of fad diets and trendy exercise classes. But how many chose to simply walk a mile a day?
While walking a mile a day won’t burn as much weight as running for an hour each day, you’re much more likely to walk daily on a consistent basis than you are to follow more intensive workout routines.
4. Relieve Joint Pain
Suffering from arthritis is no joke. About 58.5 million people, or 24% of the entire population, have to deal with the pain, swelling, and stiffness in their joints on a daily basis.
In severe cases, arthritis can have debilitating impacts on people, limiting their ability to work, be active, and more. If you’re one of the individuals who suffer from this condition, try walking a mile every day to get some relief. a short, brisk walk each day can help loosen joints and lessen the impact of dealing with arthritis.
5. Enhance Your Focus
A lot of people think that they can’t improve their concentration, but that’s simply not true. If you’re not happy with your current attention span, there are a few things you can do to turn things around. Going for a walk each day brings a lot of those things together.
Just like any other skill, concentration takes practice. Start by setting aside some time each day to focus on a single task. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the task may be. The important thing is that you train your brain to focus for extended periods. Another helpful tip is to eliminate distractions from your environment. That means turning off your phone, closing the door to your office, and silencing any other potential sources of noise. Once you’ve created a quiet space for yourself, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to concentrate.
So focus each day on going for a walk — just one mile. Leave your phone behind, and choose what you’re going to spend your walk thinking about. It may be things you are thankful for. It may be brainstorming for a project at work. It may be creating a list of things to do later in the day. No matter what, walking, even for a short period, can help enhance your focus and concentration.
6. Improve Sleep Quality
A good night’s sleep is crucial for your health. Unfortunately, getting solid rest is sometimes easier said than done. If you find it difficult to fall asleep or wake up frequently during the night, consider walking a mile each day.
The goal is to push your body so that you’re more fatigued by the end of the day. Not fatigued in a bad way, but fatigued in a good way — fatigued to the extent that you’re ready to fall asleep when your head hits the pillow.
7. Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for several body functions, including bone growth and immune system health. Spend time outside in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun’s rays are less intense. Walking a mile a day is a fantastic way to get the vitamin D that your body so desperately needs.
8. Support Your Feet
Our feet are often taken for granted — until they start to hurt, that is. The fact is, our feet are essential for keeping us mobile and pain-free. As the foundation of our bodies, healthy feet are crucial for proper alignment and balanced movement. When our feet are out of alignment, it can put stress on our bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, leading to joint pain and other problems.
That’s why it’s important to take care of our feet and make sure they’re in good condition. Walking is a great way to stay active and improve foot health, but it’s important to walk in proper form to avoid exacerbating any existing problems. A mile a day is an ideal distance for getting started with walking, for supporting your feet, and for reaping the other benefits of walking a mile a day.
9. Build Muscle
Walking is often thought of as a low-impact activity, but that doesn’t mean it’s without strength-building benefits. In fact, walking can be great for building muscles, especially in your lower body. And if you maintain good form, you’ll also engage your core and arm muscles.
One important thing to keep in mind when walking is to focus on your posture. If you have a sedentary job or lifestyle, it’s easy to carry that rounded or tight posture into your movement. But by paying attention to your form, you can help prevent injuries and get the most out of your walk. So next time you lace up your shoes, make sure to keep these tips in mind and enjoy the benefits of a good walk.
10. Boost Happiness
Feeling down in the dumps? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there, bawling our eyes out over a pint of ice cream or wallowing in self-pity after a break-up. But don’t despair! Fresh air and exercise can help — specifically walking a mile a day.
That’s right, a mile-long walk can actually boost your mood, thanks to those happy-making endorphins. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to feel those blues start melting away.
11. Lower Stress Levels
It’s no secret that American adults are feeling the pressure these days. In fact, according to a 2017 Gallup poll, eight out of 10 said they were dealing with stress in their lives — and that was before the pandemic!
If you’re nodding your head while reading this, you’re definitely not alone. The good news is that simply walking a mile day can reduce adrenaline and cortisol — the stress hormones.
So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t reach for the nearest bag of chips or bottle of wine. Instead, lace up your sneakers and go for a stroll.
12. Reinforce Your Immune System
Looking to be healthier? Walking a mile daily can boost your immune system. You’ll also need to develop other good habits, like not smoking, drinking in moderation, following hygiene best practices, etc. But simply walking a mile each day can help fend off your next cold or other illness.
13. Supercharge Your Mental Health
Taking a walk each day can have some pretty powerful impacts on health, even for those who already have certain diseases or conditions. Walking can help manage dementia and lessen some of the cognitive issues in schizophrenia. Walking can play a preventative role, too, if you’re not dealing with any cognitive issues.
14. Decrease Heart Disease Risk
Did you know that the number one cause of death in the world is cardiovascular disease? Heart attacks and strokes are by far more likely to claim your life than anything else.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to prevent these conditions — and exercise is a big one. Even just walking a mile each day can reduce the risk of heart disease and help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
15. Streamline Digestion
Your digestive system is truly an extraordinary network, starting with the taste buds in your mouth and concluding with the process of elimination. Thanks to this sophisticated process, we are able to take the nutrients that we need from food and convert them into cell-nourishing energy. Once we do that, we can expel whatever is leftover.
However, that process isn’t always easy. If you’re interested in supporting your digestive system, however, exercise should be a part of your routine. Walking one mile is a great way to build exercise into your day and streamline the digestive process.
How to Start Walking
So you want to start walking. That’s great! But what steps do you need to take? It’s not hard to get started with walking. Simply follow this 4-step process to do a mile a day — and then to expand if you’d like to.
- Get the Right Stuff: No matter your level of experience, everyone can benefit from having the right gear when they walk. Make sure your shoes have proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. It’s also important to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are appropriate for all types of weather. Layers are key in cooler weather, and moisture-wicking fabrics will keep you more comfortable no matter the conditions. If you’ll be walking outdoors when it’s dark, be sure to wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility. And don’t forget sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses if you’re going out during the day. Some people also choose to use an activity tracker, app or pedometer to help them meet their
- Map a Route: Mapping out a route for your daily walk is an essential part of staying safe and avoiding injury. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a walking route. First, look for a path with well-maintained sidewalks. Avoid cracked sidewalks, potholes, and low-hanging limbs. Second, choose a route with even turf. Uneven turf can be dangerous and cause you to trip and fall. Finally, if the weather isn’t appropriate for walking outdoors, consider walking in a shopping mall that offers open times for walkers. By following these simple tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable walk.
- Warm Up, Cool Down, Stretch: There’s no question that exercise is good for you. But if you’re not used to being active, it’s important to warm up before you start working out. Walking is a great way to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise. And when you’re finished, be sure to cool down and stretch. It’ll help your muscles recover and reduce the risk of injury. So next time you head out for a walk, remember to take it slow at first. Your body will thank you for it.
- Lengthen Your Walk: Once you start walking a mile a day, you may find a desire to go a little farther. And that is fantastic. Just take it slow. If you start with 1 mile, add a tenth or a quarter-mile onto the end. Over time, you’ll reach 2 miles and then 3 miles — and beyond. There’s no limit to where walking can take you!
What About Treadmills?
Do you like where it’s extremely cold or insufferably hot? If so, you may want to get a treadmill and walk in the comforts of your own home. That’s great. You can still enjoy many of the benefits listed above when you use a treadmill.
Of course, you won’t get any vitamin D when walking indoors on a treadmill, but you still enjoy access to many of the physical and cognitive benefits.
Did we miss any of the benefits you love most about walking? Let us know in the comments section below, or get in touch to share about your walking experience.