Community Meets Luxury
Sleight Farm’s blog about building a custom home and living in Dutchess County, NY.
Health Benefits of Walking
September 24, 2020
During the spring of 2020, when cities and towns all over the world went into some form of “lockdown” to control the spread of COVID-19, there was only one activity outside the home that people were encouraged to do: Walk.
Here in New York state, all state parks offered free admission, and most local entities did the same with their public spaces. Why? Because walking, alone or with a household member, was universally recognized as a safe way to get exercise, maintain one’s health, and cope with the stress of the pandemic.
Many Sleight Farm home buyers tell us that one of the things they love about our community is how “walkable” it is. They can step out their front door and get great exercise on the combination of flats and hills in the neighborhood. The sunrises, sunsets, and daytime views are an excellent bonus. The scenery also includes the over 150 acres of preserved conservation land from the original Sleight Farm, woven throughout the community.
In 2018, the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee presented a scientific report outlining how walking has become the most popular aerobic activity in the U.S. and has one of the lowest injury rates of any form of exercise. The health benefits of walking – even if just for a few minutes at a time – have been well proven and documented for people of all ages. They include:
- Building better bones. Since walking is the original “weight bearing exercise,” it can prevent loss of bone mass as we age. One study of post-menopausal women found that 30 minutes of walking every day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40%.
- Firing up circulation. When you walk and raise your heart rate, that improves your heart function and lowers your blood pressure, helping us fend off heart disease and stroke.
- Burning calories. About 100 every 15 minutes, to be exact. That adds up over the course of a few days or a week if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Feeding your joints. Joint cartilage relies on joint fluid for its nutrients and oxygen, and joint fluid circulates when we move.
- Improving sleep. Studies have shown that a 60-minute walk at any time of day, even in the morning, fosters more sleep and less insomnia.
- Boosting balance and coordination. For optimal fitness benefits, make sure your “workout walk” has solid posture and purposeful movements. Keep your head up, looking forward and not at the ground. Relax your neck, shoulders, and back. Step smoothly by rolling your foot from heel to toe. Swing your arms freely while bending your elbows slightly, and pump your arms if you’d like. Keep your stomach muscles a bit contracted and your back straight.
- Toning leg and stomach muscles. If you like to pump your arms while walking, this will tone your arms as well; it will also increase your range of motion, which shifts the work of walking from your joints to your muscles.
- Bolstering brain function. Several studies have shown that daily walking results in significant improvements in memory and executive function, as well as a greater volume of gray matter in the brain (an indicator of brain health).
- Lifting your mood. If you need a quick dose of endorphins, our bodies’ natural painkillers, walking will deliver that. A study from California State University at Long Beach found that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were.
- Providing family time. Getting out of the house and on the move as a family can be a great way to connect, free of screens and devices. Even a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood counts as togetherness.
We hope you find time at some point soon – and a beautiful space – to pursue these benefits by putting one foot in front of the other!