The Impact of Extra Steps

Walk to Work Day

If you could boost your health by doing an easy everyday motion that doesn’t require any equipment, would you?

That motion is walking, and there’s a reason you may want to do more of it.

Even if you are adamant about getting in a workout each day, the amount of steps you take outside of the gym matters too. And most people aren’t getting enough steps in. According to data reported by The Walking Site, the average sedentary person (such as an office worker) takes between 1,000 and 3,000 steps each day. That number may look good at first glance, however, the daily general recommendation is much higher, at 10,000 steps (which works out to be approximately five miles for most people).

That’s why National Walk to Work Day is held the first Friday of April each year to encourage people to take extra steps on the way to the office and consider continuing the habit of walking more every single day.

We all know that moving more is good, but here are a few surprising ways that you will benefit from those extra steps …

Better Circulation

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association says that walking benefits people with poor blood circulation in their legs. In addition, walking can also ward off heart disease, increase the heart rate, build a strong heart and lower blood pressure. Researchers from both the University of Tennessee and the University of Colorado at Boulder found that study participants who walked between one and two miles each day lowered their blood pressure by 11 points across the span of 24 weeks.

Improved Concentration

People in an office environment often find themselves in sedentary positions throughout the majority of the work day, not getting up nor moving around much. Sitting at a desk all day may be doing more harm than you think, especially to your concentration. But there’s a cure for that midday slump and brain fatigue. Research shows that regular walking throughout the work day boosts brain activity.

Stressed out? Walking helps that too. California State University researchers conducted a study to see how walking benefits a person’s mood and found steps directly correlated to mood — the more steps, the better people feel.

The next time you need to center your focus for a big project or task, take a walk outside. Studies from Stanford University show that walking outside improves brain function and mental focus. And, it doesn’t stop there — people who walk outside regularly feel more creative, according to researchers from the University of Kansas and the University of Utah.

Strengthened Bones

Walking on a regular basis can also be the secret to stronger bones. More steps can positively impact the loss of bone mass for people suffering with osteoporosis. According to data reported by the Arthritis Foundation and Dr. Michael A. Schwartz of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, walking can stop bone loss altogether. The National Osteoporosis Foundation suggests fast walking or walking on the treadmill as a low-impact exercise helps to promote strong bones. The experts from The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommend at least 30 minutes of walking on most days of the week.

A Longer Life

Researchers from the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Health Care System and the University of Michigan found that people in their 50s and 60s who regularly walk and exercise are 35 percent less likely to pass away over the next eight years than their non-exercising counterparts. For those with underlying health conditions, the percentage raises to 45 percent.

Additionally, Sanjay Sharma of London’s St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust states that the average person in their 50s and 60s who partakes in 25 minutes of brisk walking each day cuts their risk of dying from a heart attack by 50 percent. Those involved in the study also cited that exercise essentially buys a person three to seven additional years of life. And it’s never too late to start — study findings also show those who start exercising late in life, at the age of 70, for example, are 10 percent less likely to fall ill than non-exercisers of the same age.

Stronger Muscles

Pumping iron isn’t the only way to build muscle. Research reported by the medical professionals from the Arthritis Foundation notes that walking strengthens muscles, tones the abdominals and legs and tones arms, if they’re being pumped. Pumping the arms during a walk increases the range of motion and also shifts the pressure and weight away from muscles and joints during movement.

And of course, regular walking is good exercise. It supports the body’s joints and can help with weight-loss. A fast-paced 30-minute walk burns up to 200 calories. Over time, those calories burned can turn into pounds dropped.

Even if you didn’t walk to work on Walk to Work Day, the benefits of taking additional steps are clear, so grab your walking shoes, and hit the pavement when you can.