Health Benefits of Walking
Extensive research promotes clobbering your couch potato tendencies and bumping up physical activity to ward off disease, strengthen your heart, keep you positive, and control your weight. But as you experience the advertised promises of working out, you might be surprised over the side effects. A simple walking routine bestows a package deal of enhancements.
Enhance Your What?
While the connection might not seem obvious at first, plugging away under your own steam could actually steam up your love life. Research suggests that physical activities like walking may actually boost your libido. Quite simply, exercise stimulates circulation, which promotes blood flow to all areas of the body — including those responsible for sexual function. And since aerobic training enhances endurance, it helps support the stamina and energy necessary for sexual potency.
If you set out on an amble, hand in hand with your mate, you’ll also create an opportunity to talk — generating an emotional intimacy that carries over into the bedroom. And a 30-minute walk kicks up the release of endorphins, hormones that produce contentment and euphoria. So as both of you feel better and look better, a positive body image and self-esteem will follow… ingredients that can certainly spice up your mood.
Of course, while love may be the center of your heart, money’s the center of your checkbook. In these tough economic times, who couldn’t use a few extra bucks? Fortunately, walking can help. With every stroll you take instead of turning the ignition, you save gas… and cash. If you covered 15 miles a week worth of errands on foot rather than by car, you could pocket what your tank would guzzle to drive the same distance — seemingly minute until you calculate the annual savings.
With each step also comes an opportunity to buckle down. A walk to the grocery store means you can buy fewer items. With only 2 hands, you’re more likely to shop wisely — leaving the heavy soda, extra cookies, and impulse buys on the shelf. Not only will you export less of your hard-earned dough, you’ll import fewer calories.
And since getting healthier is guaranteed, consider the medical bills and pharmaceutical costs that could end up on the chopping block. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says Americans spend about $68 billion on drugs to control conditions that could be minimized or avoided with lifestyle changes — such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension. With better numbers showing up on your scale and on your lab charts, you can pay your doctor fewer visits… and fewer copays.
Finally, research shows that exercising regularly keeps you regular. An Australian study determined that sitting around all day may cause you to sit more in the bathroom. People who keep fit enjoy less constipation, and evidence suggests even lower incidences of bowel cancers. What’s more, activity tunes your biological clock for better sleep. Active people suffer fewer bouts with insomnia than their sedentary counterparts.
Kick the Habit
And if you’re looking for a way to kick your smoking habit, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says that physical movement may be the extra shove you need. Participants who worked up a sweat in the fitness department were twice as likely to extinguish their cigarettes permanently than those who lit up without stepping up… just one more sneaky advantage of lacing up your sneakers.