In our fast-paced society, walking often gets overlooked. But who needs fancy gym memberships or Peloton bikes when all you need is some sneakers and some pavement?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 150 minutes of walking a week can do wonders for your health and well-being – not to mention increasing your step count!
Clear Your Mind and De-Stress
But walking is more than a means to an end; you can soak in the sights and sounds of your neighborhood. Lace-up those shoes and hit the sidewalk. Need to clear your mind and de-stress? Take a leisurely stroll through the park.
Walking has many benefits that go beyond physical well-being; it can also be a powerful way to enhance mental well-being.
Take into account the benefits of walking. It may not be trendy or flashy, but it’s an age-old exercise that will benefit both your body and mind. So let’s dive in deeper by exploring why walking 4 miles a day could be so beneficial to us.
Benefits of Walking 4 Miles a Day
Walking is an empowering force with positive effects that reach beyond physical, mental, and spiritual realms. Dismissing it would be like neglecting part of our identity – don’t believe us? Here are some scientifically proven advantages associated with walking.
1. Increases Heart & Blood Circulation
Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of walking on blood circulation. Indeed, research published in the American Heart Association’s journal “Hypertension” demonstrated that 40 minutes of moderate physical activity three times a week significantly reduced blood pressure for people with hypertension (1).
Another study published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” demonstrated that 30 minutes of vigorous walking per day, five days a week, significantly reduced cholesterol levels (2).
Additionally, a review of 18 studies published in “The Journal of Physical Therapy Science” demonstrated that walking can increase peripheral blood flow, potentially decreasing the risk for peripheral artery disease and other circulatory issues (3).
If you’re in search of a quick and effective way to improve your blood circulation, walking is definitely worth considering. Tie up those sneakers and hit the sidewalk – your heart (and entire body) will thank you!
2. Weight Loss
Walking may not be the newest fitness craze, but it should not be overlooked when it comes to weight loss. Research has demonstrated that simply getting up and moving your feet helps you shed those extra pounds and maintain them over time.
One study discovered that just 30 minutes of vigorous walking a day, five days a week, can result in weight loss of approximately 2.7 pounds over 12 weeks (4). If you’re up for the challenge, walking 10,000 steps per day (about 5 miles) has been proven to lead to significant decreases in body weight and BMI for overweight individuals (5).
Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique, dependent on factors like starting weight, walking intensity and genetics. But with consistency and dedication to exercise, walking can be an efficient and effective way to reach your weight loss objectives.
3. Enhances Mental Health
In addition to these physical advantages, studies have demonstrated the beneficial effect of walking on mental health. For instance, research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine demonstrated that just 30 minutes a day for three days a week were associated with significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression among older adults (6).
Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that walking outdoors was associated with improved moods and reduced symptoms of depression (7). Participants who took a 90-minute stroll through nature showed reduced activity in the part of their brain associated with depression compared to those walking in an urban setting.
Furthermore, a meta-analysis of 25 studies revealed that exercise, including walking, was effective in alleviating symptoms of depression across different ages and populations (8,9).
Next time you’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed, take a walk outside and reap its benefits.
4. Enhances Cognitive Performance
Walking has not only been shown to aid memory and thinking skills, but it has also been found to enhance cognitive performance in other ways as well.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed that regular walking was linked to a larger hippocampus – the brain region responsible for memory and learning – among older adults with memory complaints (10).
Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that walking for 10 minutes at a time improved cognitive performance among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (11).
Walking has long been known to improve cognitive performance in healthy young adults. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition revealed that walking improved creativity and divergent thinking (the capacity to generate multiple solutions to a problem) both indoors and outdoors (12).
No matter your age or health status, walking can provide a cognitive boost that can enhance performance on various tasks. Making regular walks part of your routine benefits not only physical well-being but also mental agility.
5. Fosters Social Connections
Walking is the ultimate multitasker: you get fit, socialize and explore all at once! It’s like getting three for the price of one! Why spend money on a fancy gym membership when you can get fitter, have more fun, and make new friends by simply taking steps forward? Walking makes for an invaluable multitasker!
Walking not only offers you a chance to bond with your squad, but it can also be beneficial for your mental health. Being outdoors in nature and taking in the fresh air can have a profound effect on both your mood and overall well-being.
Plus, when you’re out with friends, you can share your struggles, celebrate successes and just have some good old-fashioned conversation – it’s like having a mini therapy session on the go!
Let’s not forget the social aspect of walking either! Joining a walking group or club can be an excellent way to meet new people and expand your social circle. No matter if you’re just starting out or have been doing this for awhile, there is sure to be a group for everyone in this great activity.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even meet your future best friend or significant other on a group walk! It’s like real-life dating app but with less swiping and more sweating.
6. Increases Energy
Studies have demonstrated that walking can increase energy levels and decrease fatigue. A study by the University of Georgia discovered sedentary individuals who engaged in regular low-intensity exercises like walking experienced significant increases in their energy levels and reduced fatigue (13).
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, taking a 10-minute walk was more effective at increasing energy levels than eating a candy bar (14).
Additionally, studies have demonstrated that walking outdoors in natural settings can improve moods and reduce stress, leading to greater energy levels (15).
7. Improves Sleep Quality
A good night’s sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, regular exercise like walking can help us fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (16).
Walking helps regulate our circadian rhythm, the internal clock that controls our sleep-wake cycle. According to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, participants who walked for at least 150 minutes per week experienced significant improvements in their sleep quality and duration (17).
Additionally, walking has been proven to alleviate symptoms associated with sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea. According to a study published in The Journal of Sleep Research, participants who engaged in regular moderate-intensity exercises like walking experienced significant reductions in their symptoms (18).
Walking can also help alleviate stress and anxiety, which may contribute to poor sleep quality. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine discovered that participants who walked for at least 30 minutes per day experienced significant reductions in their stress levels as well as an improvement in their sleep quality (19).
If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, try adding a daily walk into your routine. Not only will it burn calories and improve your physical fitness level, but it can also provide you with restful, restorative sleep so that you feel your best the following morning.
Top Tips To Make Walking 4 Miles a Day Easy
Now that you understand the advantages of walking, how can it become part of your routine? It is low-impact and accessible from anywhere; although walking four miles may seem daunting at first glance, with some effort and determination it will quickly become part of your daily regimen.
Here are some tips for walking four miles a day with some humor and good cheer.
● Start Slow And Steady: You don’t have to be Usain Bolt to walk four miles a day. Start at a slower pace and gradually increase your speed and distance over time; remember, slow and steady wins the race unless you’re actually competing; then it may be beneficial to speed up some.
● Find A Walking Partner: Walking with a friend or family member can make the time fly by more quickly and make the experience more enjoyable. Just make sure they’re not an annoying chatty Cathy who talks nonstop; that could slow down your pace and make the walk seem like an eternity.
● Track Your Progress With Pedometer: Wearing a pedometer can help you track your steps and distance traveled. It’s an effective tool for monitoring progress and setting objectives – just don’t get too caught up in the numbers. Remember: walking should be enjoyable, not an exercise competition!
● Switch It Up: Walking the same route every day can get dull. Break things up by exploring new neighborhoods or taking a nature walk – mix things up for something exciting and challenging! Who knows, you might even discover an unexpected favorite spot in your own town!
● Create a Habit of Walking Four Miles Daily: Walking four miles daily is an impressive goal, but it won’t happen overnight. Make it part of your everyday routine by adding it into your commute to work, during lunch break or after dinner – the more often you do it the easier it will become.
● Stay Motivated: Motivation is essential to reaching your walking goals. Reward yourself when you reach milestones like walking 50 miles in one month or completing a 10-mile walk; just don’t reward yourself with an indulgent tub of ice cream or bag of chips – that would defeat the purpose.
● Be Safe: Safety should always be your top priority when walking. Wear comfortable shoes, dress appropriately for the weather, and bring water and snacks. If you’re walking alone, let someone know your route and expected return time ahead of time. And always remain aware of your surroundings.
Walking four miles daily is an excellent way to stay active and healthy. These tips can help make walking part of your daily routine, so grab your walking shoes, grab a friend or family member, and hit the pavement – just remember to have fun, stay safe, and don’t forget to stop to smell the roses (or whatever flowers may be around).
Walking is like a superhero that saves the day by improving your overall health and well-being.
Walking 4 miles a day offers many rewards that’ll have you feeling like the caped crusader, such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, mental clarity, smarter brain power, social connections, increased energy levels and better sleep quality.
With these tips for making walking a habit, it’s now easier than ever to don your walking shoes and hit the streets.
Next time you’re looking for a way to feel like Superhero, remember that walking is the exercise that will have you saving the world one step at a time!
Cornelissen VA, Smart NA. Exercise training for blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Heart Assoc. 2013;2(1):e004473.
Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Aerobic exercise and HDL2-C: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;49(19):1835-44.
Miyamoto T, et al. Effects of walking on peripheral blood flow in patients with peripheral arterial disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Phys Ther Sci. 2016;28(6):1841-1845.
Muntner P, et al. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2006; 3:314–323.
Bravata DM, et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007; 85:1267–1274.