National Walking Day

Grab your shoes and start moving!

Author’s Note: Research is credited to National Day Calendar and the American Heart Association.

After a rough month weather-wise, it seems that the worst is behind us for the season. With spring fever starting to spread, people are definitely taking advantage of the weather to get outside when possible. While there still isn’t a wide variety of options for outdoor activities when the ground is still soggy, walking remains a steady favorite of people who just want to enjoy the sun and move their bodies. 

The first Wednesday of April is National Walking Day and is very appropriately placed. By April, everyone seems to be moving on from winter, at least mentally (snow is an option almost year-round in North Dakota). Sponsored by the American Heart Association, this holiday is important in many ways. 

I have always loved heading outside for a walk, but like many others, the pandemic greatly influenced my walking habits. Regular walks outside became the norm for me and my family which is a tradition we carry on today. In honor of National Walking Day, I wanted to share some of the ways walking can boost both mental and physical health.

For starters, walking is extremely beneficial to heart health. According to the American Heart Association, just fifteen minutes of light exercise every day can reduce mortality risk from all causes by up to 14%. It can also lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke in older adults. 

In addition, taking regular walks can lower the risk of diabetes and several types of cancer across all ages, and it helps regulate blood pressure. 

Feeling tired? Regular physical activity has been proven to increase energy. Even if you aren’t powerlifting and running marathons, walking as well as other forms of exercise, can lower fatigue. It also takes less time to recover from than more strenuous physical activity. If you haven’t worked out in a while, or are looking to just start being active, walking is a simple and low-stress way to begin. 

In addition, walking can help manage weight, improve flexibility and endurance and strengthen bone mass. 

If physical benefits aren’t enough, walking plays a huge role in one’s mental health. Walking has been shown to lower stress levels and manage anxiety. Heading outside for fresh air, sunshine and moving your body also helps decrease depression symptoms. Add some social connection by bringing along a friend or use the time to call a family member or friend you miss.

If weather is a hindrance, as it often is, there are many places to walk indoors. Try the Wellness Center’s walking track here on campus, or walk the West Acres Mall on 13th Avenue in Fargo. Other free walking tracks include the Veteran’s Arena and the Rustad Recreation Center, both in West Fargo, and the track at Fargo North High School.

It’s easy to see all the reasons walking can become a good habit to start. It’s simple and cost-effective and benefits health all around. It is also a physical activity that can be carried on for one’s whole life. National Walking Day, the first Wednesday of April (this year on April 3) doesn’t have to be the day to start taking control of one’s health, but it’s as good a time as any to start.

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