Car-Free Day: Benefits of Walking

How many miles do you drive in a day?  Some of us like to hop in the car, even if it’s for a short trip down the street. September 22nd is Car-Free Day, a day when we encourage you to go about your daily activities without using your car. Not only is taking a day off from driving good for the environment, it can also be good for your health if you replace your short drives with short walks! Here are a few of the many ways in which your body will benefit if you forego your car rides and opt to walk instead.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

If you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, any amount of walking is bound to be beneficial for you. Depending on your current weight and some other factors, walking just one mile could burn as many as 100 calories in just 15-20 minutes. That’s why doctors recommend walking at least 30 minutes every day to maintain a healthy weight. If you don’t get much exercise right now, a daily 30 minute walk could make a big difference for you, and it may even give you the motivation you need to create more ambitious fitness goals to keep pushing yourself every day.

Strengthen Your Bones, Muscles and Joints

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” While that may not apply in all situations, it absolutely applies to your body. When you put a reasonable amount of stress on your bones, muscles, and joints, your body rises to the occasion, building up the areas that get the most use. Your daily 30 minute walk can be enough to kick start this process, leading to stronger muscles, bones, and joints. This becomes especially important as you approach age 50, as that’s the time in your life when you’re most susceptible to muscle atrophy, bone loss, and joint problems.

Improve Your Balance

A fall can be disastrous, especially for older people. A fall can easily result in broken bones and other severe injuries. If you’re interested in improving your balance, a daily walk could be just what the doctor ordered. You see, the more you walk, the stronger the bones, muscles, and joints in your ankles will be; in addition, walking regularly improves proprioception (your body’s ability to sense its own position in space). The better your proprioception, the better your balance will be, and the less likely you’ll be to take a nasty fall that could lead to serious injuries.

In the most basic terms, the more you walk, the healthier you’ll be. While September 22nd may be Car-Free Day, you don’t have to limit your walking to just one day.  The next time you have a short trip to make, put on your walking shoes instead of grabbing the car keys. Not only will it save you some gas money, it will also impart a host of benefits to your body. Find more excuses to walk and find ways to make walking more fun; you’ll be on the road to a healthier body in no time!