We all know that walking is an effective, low-cost cardiovascular exercise, but have you ever considered these seven fringe benefits of walking?

  1. Young Couple Walking DogIt’s Social. Grab a walking partner – a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, your teen or your whole family. While you walk, you can share stories, give support and have a laugh. Meanwhile, your feet have covered lots of ground without you even realizing it.
  2. It’s D-lightful. When you’re out in the sun, your body produces its own vitamin D, which is linked to bone health and other benefits. Some health experts say 10-15 minutes of sun on unprotected skin, 3 days a week, is enough to get the vitamin D you need. Many people are deficient in D, especially in northern climates.
  3. It’s Pro-Bone. Every time your foot hits the pavement, it puts stress on the bones in your body – and that’s a good thing! Bones react to stress by becoming stronger, which fights off osteoporosis, or bone thinning.
  4. It’s Dog-gone Healthy. While you’re out for a walk with Fido, your dog is reaping the same aerobic benefits you are. This helps keep your pup at a healthy weight, in a good mood and sleeping like a baby (awwww).
  5. It’s Mobile Meditation. While you walk, you can connect with nature and your own body – you may notice the texture of the clouds, the soft breeze, the smells of flowers, the pace of your footsteps, the rhythm of your own breath. This type of meditative connection is a natural de-stresser.
  6. It’s Informative. When you get out for a walk, you can strengthen your bond with your community – whether it’s a neighbor out gardening, a shopkeeper sweeping the sidewalk, or a park ranger – sharing news, tips and just generally keeping up with what’s going on around you.
  7. It’s Uplifting. Studies have shown that daylight entering through your eyes has a mood-boosting effect on the brain. The aerobic aspect of walking has also been shown to lift spirits; research has shown aerobic exercise be as effective as anti-depressant drugs in treating mild to moderate depression.

SOURCE: Medline Plus, NIH

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