Between office work, binge watching Netflix, and generally spending more time being sedentary at home this year, it’s safe to say that we’ve all spent significantly more time sitting down than we would have had it been a normal year.
And with the general consensus suggesting that ‘sitting is the new smoking,’ all this sitting around certainly doesn’t do us any favors.
That being said, you really don’t need to overhaul your lifestyle in order to counterbalance the time you spend sitting down or being sedentary—you don’t need an adjustable standing desk and you don’t need to pencil in high intensity workouts. In fact, new research suggests that a simple daily walk may be all you need to combat the effects of sitting all day.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, walking for a minimum of 11 minutes a day could be enough to lessen the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
The analysis suggests that about 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise or walking per day is the most conservative model but participants who practiced as little as 11 minutes per day did not differ in risk compared with the more active group.
In other words: if you really want to make sure you’re staying healthy, or if you’re spending most of your day sitting down, you’ll want to double- or triple that daily walk.
Something as simple as a daily walk around the block could have positive effects on many other aspects of health and wellness, too. In fact, when we spoke to fitness professionals about the benefits of walking, their positions and experience inspired us to strap on our walking shoes even more so.
Here are a handful of further benefits of taking a daily walk—and why the leisurely activity is well worth penciling into your daily routine.
It makes you happier
“Prioritizing your mental health is especially important this year. Getting out of the house to go for a walk is a great way to relieve stress and break up the monotony of quarantine,” explains New York City-based Certified Personal Trainer Zarina Briggs.
“Like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, walking releases endorphins that help improve your mood and trigger positive feelings in the body. Exercising regularly can also ease depression and anxiety.”
It helps keep your body energized—at a cellular level
“Walking it can also give us more cellular energy and create more mitochondria,” explains Health, Fitness, Nutrition Expert and TV Host, Joey Thruman.
“You see mitochondria is the powerhouse of our cells and if we don’t have healthy and functioning cells…well, we die. If our cells aren’t functioning to capacity and we start losing mitochondria we become tired, sluggish, and have mental health problems. You see, getting that walk in will not only help your body but your mind too!”
It will help you practice mindfulness
“While mindfulness is typically associated with formal practices such as meditation, you can bring mindfulness into any activity, including walking,” explains Dr. Jordan Duncan, Owner of Olympic Spine & Sports Rehabilitation.
“Through non-judgmental awareness of the experience of walking, for example by paying attention to your feet contacting the ground, the movement of your arms and legs, the position of your body, your breathing, and/or external sensations (e.g. the wind on your face), you can transform the simple act of walking into a mindfulness exercise.”