I go on a walk whenever I feel anxious. Mad. Sad. Lazy. Tired. Or uncreative. And always, without fail, I feel much better afterwards.
Now, I’m not the only one who recognizes the benefits of going on a walk.
So, why do I and these successful people walk every day? Well, here are the top 7 benefits of walking outside daily.
1 – Walking is a physical activity.
Instead of walking, we’re told to try the latest trending exercise program and diet. We’re told to buy supplements. We’re told to take prescription drugs.
Now, I’m not against prescription medicine. But I do believe we should try to heal our bodies and minds holistically first before jumping to prescribed medication.
This means making sure all the basics of good health are covered. Like nutrition. Hydration. Sleep. Stress management. And movement, including walking.
Increases your cardiovascular fitness
Strengthens your bones
Helps keep you in shape by reducing your body fat
Helps regulate blood sugar
So alongside strength training at the gym, I also go on a walk every day to hit the recommended 10K steps. And luckily, walking can be done anywhere at any time because it’s free and requires no equipment.
2 – Walking helps you sleep better.
Active people sleep more deeply and feel more refreshed in the morning than non-active people even when they sleep the same number of hours.
A potential explanation for this is because walking outside in the morning exposes you to natural light. And this natural light entrains a strong circadian rhythm that promotes healthy sleep.
This is why Andrew Huberman says, the most important thing is to get sunlight on your eyes upon waking even when it’s cloudy. Doing so sets your biological clock.
Huberman also says it helps to get some sunlight in the late afternoon or evening. This is because evening light stimulates melatonin production, the sleep-inducing hormone.
Now, I don’t usually go on a walk in the morning because that’s when I go to the gym. So, I prefer going on late afternoon or early evening walks which helps me sleep better.
3 – Walking has the power to heal.
First, walking lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 Americans. It also costs the US over $48 billion per year. But by walking for 30 minutes or more a week in a park, you can reduce your blood pressure.
Second, walking lowers the risk of cancer. In a study, people who took two long walks in nature over two consecutive days had an increase in their cancer-fighting cells.
Third, walking in nature can speed up recovery processes. In a study, patients who had a window view of deciduous trees healed from surgery faster than those who viewed a brick wall.
And lastly, walking repairs and builds new brain cells. This process is called neuroplasticity.
A study found that cardio boosts the size of your hippocampus. This is an area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
And an increased hippocampal volume is associated with greater serum levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This molecule helps repair and create new brain cells.
4 – Walking sparks creativity.
Sometimes when I sit down in front of my laptop to write, I can’t think of what to write about.
In the past, I used to sit there and stare at my screen, forcing myself to come up with ideas. Most of the time, this led to me browsing the Internet and social media. Or looking at my book notes and Word doc of ideas.
But now whenever this happens, I close my laptop and go on a walk. And the miraculous thing is, ideas flow to me as I walk. So by the time I’ve finished walking, I have a list of ideas in my Notes app to write about.
It’s as Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
The thing is… our minds are overstimulated by our phones. Our laptops. The constant bustling of the city. But walking in nature gives us a moment of solitude that calms our minds.
And it’s in this calm state that we can explore concepts, play with, and connect ideas.
For example, in a study, backpackers scored 50% better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature disconnected from their electronic devices.
5 – Walking improves your self-esteem.
Why? Well, if your self-esteem issues are related to your weight, then walking can help you keep in shape by reducing your body fat.
Also, walking gives you time to listen to and understand your own thoughts. If you notice your self-talk is negative, you can change your narrative to an empowering one.
And lastly, walking gives you a sense of belonging. You’ll often see people when you go on a walk. Personally, I love seeing and observing people. Lol, maybe this sounds creepy.
But when I see others, I feel connected to them. I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. And this sense of belonging improves my self-esteem.
6 – Walking helps you develop more gratitude.
When you’re sitting at home in front of your computer screen or when you’re lying on your bed…
Sometimes all you can think about is how many tasks you still have left. How tired you are. How unproductive you are. How stressed you are.
You feel like this is all life has to offer.
But whenever you feel like this, I urge you to go walk outside mindfully. Because when you take the time to walk at a leisurely pace, you’ll notice how marvelous the world is.
You’ll feel the wind on your cheeks. You’ll breathe in the fresh, crisp air. You’ll hear the birds chirping. You’ll smell the flowers.
Engaging in these senses helps you ground yourself in the here and now, making you more appreciative and grateful for being part of this beautiful world.
7 – Walking gives you more inner peace.
The bright lights. The four walls. The electronic screens. All these unnatural things can make us feel depressed.
Because we’re wired to be outside. So, walking in nature replenishes us. Things like sunshine, fresh air, and solitude are good for the mind, body, and soul.
Plus, being in nature lets us reflect and relax from the stress of the world. It helps us clear our heads and gain new perspectives. And it lets us realize our problems are pretty insignificant in the grand schemes of things.
Wrapping Things Up
As a quick recap, here are the top 7 benefits of walking outside daily.
Walking is exercise.
Walking helps you sleep better.
Walking has the power to heal.
Walking sparks creativity.
Walking improves your self-esteem.
Walking helps you develop more gratitude.
Walking gives you more inner peace.