The 6 benefits of walking for body and mind

Whether you’re already an avid walker or just starting to hike, you’re probably curious about how this type of exercise can benefit your physical and mental health. The good news is that walking has many health benefits.

Does walking make your body stronger?

Is walking a good way to lose weight?

Countless studies and research have consistently shown that regular exercise not only improves our overall health and fitness, but also extends and improves the quality of our lives. Because it’s considered a “total body workout” and a way to practice mindfulness, studies show that the benefits of walking include strengthening the lower body, relieving stress, preventing obesity, and heart disease.

What is Walking?

Hiking is a recreational activity where you walk in nature. Unlike walking, hiking is walking for fun and exercise. It is considered one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. Walking usually involves long and sometimes vigorous walking, usually on country paths or footpaths, on outdoor hills or in the mountains, but it can also include easier walks on flatter paths laid by man. A “trekking” is a little different from a trek in that it is more difficult and requires a longer journey of several days or even weeks. You can hike almost anywhere there are hills.

The benefits of walking

What are the benefits of walking for your body?

Becoming a walker can benefit your health in many ways, including toning your legs and back and reducing stress. Here’s more about the many benefits of walking (safely, of course!):

1. Lower body and back strengthening

Walking is a low-impact form of aerobic exercise that can help strengthen muscles and bones, especially in the legs and back. If you walk a lot, take stairs and climb hills, it’s even better for increasing strength and muscle mass, and if you run on uneven surfaces, you’ll train your core and improve your stability. This form of exercise is also effective for improving balance and range of motion, as the more difficult climbs require you to stand on one leg, lie forward, etc.

2. Improved stamina and heart health

Regular exercise reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and also lowers the risk of a number of other chronic diseases. For example, regular exercise, such as walking, lowers blood pressure and may help prevent the development of colon cancer, diabetes, and high cholesterol in some people. Most of these positive effects are due to walking’s ability to increase heart rate and exercise the lungs, which improves circulation and oxygenation. Walking can also help reduce stress-related inflammation and reduce weight gain, benefiting overall health.

3. Can help you lose weight

Like other forms of exercise, walking can help you manage your weight, for example by reducing excess body fat or preventing unwanted weight gain. Research shows that you can burn an average of between 80 and 100 calories for every mile you walk (you expend even more energy if you have a larger body weight or walk uphill). Walking at a moderate or fast pace for about an hour can burn hundreds of calories, which can benefit your waistline and overall body composition.

4. Helps reduce stress

The walking experience is unique, according to research, and brings benefits beyond what is gained by doing conventional exercise. Not only does it oxygenate your heart, but it also helps to keep your mind sharper, your body calmer, your creativity more vibrant and relationships happier. Research suggests that physical activity and time spent in nature have synergistic effects, meaning the two are even more powerful when done together. Studies show that spending time in nature gives most people mental relief from stress, depression and anxiety symptoms, especially if they also exercise or are active in the open air, for example in “green spaces”.

Walking (and just walking too) makes our bodies feel good, including endorphins, which are known to improve our mood and fight pain. Exercise and spending time outdoors also have other effects on the brain that reduce tension, depression, worry and worry, and improve problem solving and a sense of belonging (“feeling small in the presence of something bigger than yourself “). Becoming a walker can also improve your sleep by making you feel calmer and more tired, which translates to a clear mind and more energy the next day.

5. Promotes brain health and cognitive function

Not only can walking improve your mood, but it has also been linked to other mental health improvements such as increased creativity, better memory, and better problem solving. A number of studies have shown that outdoor exercise can promote mindfulness, better self-awareness, and enhanced sensory perception (of sights, smells, and feelings). Researchers found that walking involves parts of the brain designed to help you orient yourself in your surroundings, including the retrosplenial cortex and hippocampus, which help with memory. Walking can also have a beneficial social component if you choose to include others, such as walking with a partner or joining a group that regularly walks together. This can promote a greater sense of belonging and reduce loneliness, which has been linked to better mental health. Some studies have even shown that exercising outdoors can help your relationships by making you more empathetic, helpful, open-minded, and generous.

6. Reduce the risk of osteoarthritis and loss of bone density

In addition to making you stronger, the benefits of walking also extend to your bones, joints and connective tissues. Walking is a low-impact activity that shouldn’t put a lot of stress and strain on your joints, but it is a form of weight-bearing exercise, meaning it strengthens your bones. Weight-bearing exercise can help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis, as long as you don’t overdo it. They are also recommended to prevent osteoporosis and loss of bone density, which can increase susceptibility to fractures and fractures.

Amount to do + potential risks

The type of hiking that is best for you depends on your skill level and general physical condition. People who are more active and stable in the lower body can benefit from the slope of hills and steeper trails, while those who are new to hiking are better off on flatter, dirt roads and less strenuous trails. Always wear quality shoes when hiking to reduce the risk of falls or injury. Be careful when walking on slippery dirt or mud, on very rocky paths or under overhanging branches. If possible, follow the trail markers and watch out for wildlife that may be in the area and cross your path.

If you are going on long walks, prepare the necessary equipment, such as water, in advance and always practice “good hygiene” (regular cleaning of water and cooking utensils, and regular hand washing).

Can we go for a walk every day?

If you don’t have any injuries, aren’t exhausted, or don’t exert yourself too much, walking (or just walking uphill) can be a good form of exercise to do almost every day. . For more vigorous and longer walks, allow yourself time to rest between walks to help your muscles and joints recover. In general, it’s best to listen to your body to avoid overtraining. However, experienced hikers can usually do some form of daily walking without injury.


Whether you are an experienced walker or new to this type of exercise, you can get physical and mental benefits from walking. Not only does it help improve aerobic fitness and endurance, but it is also a natural way to reduce stress. Benefits of walking may include improved resistance to anxiety and depression, strength, bone density, balance, heart health and weight management. There are endless places to hike depending on your skill level: trails, mountains, steep hills, etc. Start with easier, shorter hikes, then increase intensity and duration as your body adapts.

* Presse Santé strives to transfer health knowledge in a language that is accessible to everyone. In NO EVENT does the information provided replace the opinion of a healthcare professional.

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