ad collaborative post // Walking offers numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. Of course, the first perk that comes to mind is typically weight loss, but walking can also lower your blood sugar, minimize joint pain, boost heart health, prevent certain diseases and even prolong your life. However, many people fail to realize that walking doesn’t just improve physical health. It benefits your mental health, too.

Are you ready to feel happy and healthy again? Here are four more reasons to get started with a regular walking routine:

1. You Can Do It Anywhere

The best thing about walking as an exercise is that you can do it anywhere. That means you can walk to proactively prevent poor mental health, but you can also use it to treat existing conditions spur of the moment.

For instance, if you start having a panic attack or feel like your mind is waging war on your sanity, you can immediately get up and start walking. Often, simply moving your body is enough to help you get out of your head and ease your worries.

2. Grows Your Brain

You know that walking can boost your mood and alleviate symptoms of mental illness. But did you know that even a slow saunter can benefit your brain? Recent studies show that even just 10 minutes of light exercise like walking or tai chi can boost cognitive function. These simple exercises stimulate the hippocampus and cortical regions to support better memory and possibly stave off cognitive decline as you age.

Take quick breaks throughout your day to go on a brain-boosting stroll. Practice being present and alert on your journey to avoid mishaps, soak in the mind-body experience and sharpen your brain in both the long and short-term.

3. Boosts Self-Confidence

Sure, running burns more calories, but walking can help you shape up, too. Eventually, you might even notice that you’ve shed a few pounds — or inches — which can totally boost your self-confidence. A great physique isn’t everything, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to feel and look good, too!

When you feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, you tend to make decisions that are good for you and your health. You’re also more likely to develop a positive outlook on life, which can increase your mental and emotional wellbeing. Gone are the days of sitting around on the couch eating potato chips. Now, you can hike, explore and enjoy all that life has to offer.

4. Improves Sleep

Do you suffer from insomnia? Maybe you fall asleep easily but wake up repeatedly throughout the night. Both scenarios can leave you feeling exhausted the following morning and exacerbate conditions like depression and anxiety. Poor sleep can also cause mood swings, which negatively impact both your mental and emotional health.

Good news! Walking can help you sleep better, too. Is there anything this exercise can’t do? One study found that increasing your daily step count can improve both sleep quality and duration, meaning you’ll be more likely to fall and stay asleep at night. Take a quick walk in the morning and evening to sync your circadian rhythm with the sun and get a breath of fresh air every day.

Creating a Walking Routine

If you truly want to reap the physical and mental benefits of walking, developing a consistent routine is key. Start small and gradually build up endurance, adding miles or increasing your speed as you go. Remember to incorporate stretches into your routine to warm up and prevent injury. Give yourself goals and pick an enjoyable walking environment. The more fun you have, the more likely you are to stick with it and see results.

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