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The surprising benefits of walking

Here are just some of the wondrous ways walking more can support us:

Off-the-charts creativity

Whether we’re wracking our brains looking for the solution to a tricky problem, feeling stuck at work, or experiencing writer’s block, Stanford researchers found that walking can boost creativity by a whopping 60%! The same results were found for both indoor and outdoor walks, and the creative boost lingered on even after the walk had finished.

According to the study, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

Stumped for an idea? Let's face it, sitting pondering a blank screen or twiddling our fingers isn't going to help! Take a quick stroll around the block. [1]

Reduces depression and improves mood

Movement is great for our physical health, but it also provides us with a huge boost to our mental health and wellbeing. A daily half an hour walk can reduce symptoms of depression and stress by 36%! One study found that just 12 minutes of walking increased cheerfulness, energy, attentiveness, and self-confidence versus the same time spent sitting. A brilliant reason to get out and about over lunch. [2]

“When our mental state makes going to the gym or getting dressed for yoga feel like too much effort, walking may feel more manageable.” Grace McMahon, Beingwell Life Coach

Helps us to refocus

When we walk more and take time to care for our amazing bodies, we experience higher levels of cognition. That means we’re more likely to think with crystal clear clarity, are better at problem-solving, have a much easier time remembering things, and can follow the plotlines of exceedingly complicated films or series (have you watched Tenet?).

Walking 30-40 minutes a day three times a week can also help “regrow” structures in our brains and mean we’re less likely to experience Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and cognitive decline as we grow older.

Vitamin D boost

Vitamin D is absolutely essential to our health and wellbeing, it helps to keep bones, teeth and muscles happy and healthy. One of the ways we can get more of this super vitamin is through spending time in the sun. Going for a walk, particularly in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest, can boost our Vitamin D levels. Mid-day walking is particularly important in winter when the days are shorter, and the sun doesn’t always have his hat on.

The NHS recommends that as adults we take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D3 a day between October and early March, as a top-up. It’s also important to cover up or protect our skin if we’re out in the sun for a long time to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

And finally, it can increase our lifespan!

It turns out that putting one foot in front of the other could help reduce our risk of disease and promote longevity. A study that followed 140,000 adults over 24 years, found that walking between 2 to 6 hours per week reduced the risk of disease and helped people live longer. Researchers found that the amount of walking we do influences how many years extra we’ll live. Even just 75 minutes a week, less than 11 minutes a day, could add almost 2 years onto our lives. [3]

And we don’t need to do one or two mammoth walks a week. Take the dog out for a walk around the block, get off the bus a stop early, walk instead of drive to pick up lunch, have a stroll after dinner with the family, take the stairs instead of the lift. Research shows it’s better to break up our movement throughout the day than to hit the gym after sitting all day.

Walking is free, easy, and doable for almost everyone. Just make sure to wear a good pair of trainers or walking shoes that are flexible and supportive.


Final thought:

"The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. You don’t move? The body will make you better at NOT moving. If you move, your body will allow more movement.” Ido Portal, Movement Coach


  1. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwart (2014). Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking. Stanford University

  2. Miller JC, Krizan Z (2016). Walking facilitates positive affect (even when expecting the opposite). Pubmed.

  3. Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort (2019). American Cancer Society.American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


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