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2 women walking for fitness

Why Walking is Better than the Gym

Walking is one of the very best exercises, but in our modern times we walk a whole lot less than we used to. Cars, drive-throughs, and delivery services have eliminated the need to walk anywhere. Over the last few years, health agencies and employers have recognized the physical and mental benefits of walking and actively encourage more of it in daily life. In fact, in many ways, walking is better than the gym!

In This Healthy Insight:

  1. The Science of Walking
  2. Reasons People Cancel their Gym Membership
  3. How Many Steps Should I be Walking
  4. Benefits of Walking
  5. Walking Checklist
  6. How to Handle Foot Care
  7. Tips for Walking and Foot Care

The Science of Walking

Walking may seem simple enough but walking on two legs is unique to our species, requiring balance and sophisticated muscle coordination. Walking’s been essential for human evolution and health.

Studies show a relationship between movement of the body and thinking. Walking alters the brain’s structure and increases the capacity for learning and memory, influencing how we think, reason, read and write. Many students find it helpful to pace while reading or memorizing material.

It’s good for problem solving too. Wandering around the block or on a trail allows your mind to wander too. Lots of people go for a walk when trying to think through problems. It helps your mind integrate thoughts and make connections it might not otherwise have made.

Reasons People Cancel their Gym Membership

  • Membership is too expensive
  • Inconvenient location
  • Unsanitary gym conditions
  • Social anxiety
  • Inconvenient hours
  • Didn’t use membership as much as expected
  • Set up their own equipment at home

How Many Steps Should I be Walking?

While healthy adults can take 4,000 to 15,000 steps a day, many aim for 10,000 steps daily.

Benefits of Walking

Walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise since you’re carrying your own weight when you walk. Here are a few of the mental and physical benefits:

Walking Checklist

  • Appropriate clothing for the weather
  • Cell phone
  • Sturdy, comfortable shoes
  • Proper socks
  • Adequate insoles for support
  • Water
  • Snack for longer treks
  • Sunglasses
  • Walking stick (optional)
  • Pedometer (optional)
  • Step tracker (optional)

How to Handle Foot Care

  1. Examine your feet daily. Look for any abrasions on the bottom of your feet, check between toes and make sure there’s no discolored, thick or ingrown toenails. Use a mirror or ask a friend to help you examine.
  2. Wash your feet daily. Dry feet carefully before putting on socks and shoes. Avoid using foot powder.
  3. Use sunscreen on your feet when in the sun.
  4. Don’t walk outside barefoot, especially not on hot pavement or sand.
  5. Test bath water with your hand or elbow before stepping in.
  6. If you’re cold in bed at night use only loose-fitting socks.
  7. Wear absorbent socks and change every day or even multiple times during the day if needed.
  8. See your foot doctor as recommended.
  9. Stop smoking, which causes blood vessels to narrow and inhibits good circulation.
  10. Shop brands that specialize in foot care such as Pedifix

Tips for Walking, Foot Care and Fitness

When it comes to proper foot care for walking, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Shop at a shoe store with clerks who have the expertise to help you find the right fit. These stores tend to be a bit more expensive than big box retailers where you help yourself, but they offer higher quality and more specialized shoes. 

Buy shoes late in the day since your feet get bigger as the day goes on. If purchased in the morning, they may be end up being too tight. Look for shoes with soft leather uppers that have the flexibility to mold to the shape of your feet. When wearing shoes, always wear socks to absorb perspiration and cushion heels. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individual results may vary.

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