We’re bombarded by fitness messaging that tells us that to be healthy, we must go to extremes (“no pain, no gain). But really, it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Simply going for a walk (especially if you do it regularly and outdoors) is an underestimated but low-stress, low-impact, accessible way to reap lots of health benefits. It can be a rejuvenating time, spent in solitude or in the company of friends, in sunshine and fresh air. Here are four benefits of going for walks—no gym membership required.
It Boosts Your Mood
Just the act of walking—the way you’ve probably been doing without thought ever since you were a toddler—can improve your mood, even in an environment where you may be dreading tasks you have at hand, according to a 2016 study.
Plus, it gives you a reason to take breaks from your chair throughout the day. If you’re able to walk outside in a natural setting and not on a treadmill or at your workplace, the benefits are even more direct. Studies show that walking outdoors can help relieve stress: In one study, participants who took a 90-minute walk outdoors reported less “rumination” (repeatedly thinking negative thoughts about yourself) and showed less activity in regions of the brain linked to mental illness.