With the rise of Fitbits and Apple Watches, people have become obsessed with getting in their steps for the day. If you're someone who logs your daily walking, you might be wondering what exactly getting your steps in does for your health. Luckily, reaching your daily goal can do more than just give you satisfaction. Physical activity, including just walking, can work wonders for your health and do much more than you may realize.
"Nowadays, tracking steps has been a huge trend," family physician Dr. Kristamarie Collman tells Bustle. "For some, it can spike motivation and help set attainable goals depending on one's lifestyle. Once you have reached the initial goal, it can push you to work up to more steps. Tracking your steps can help keep you accountable for moving throughout the day, and it certainly provides a nudge to sneak in more activity for improved overall health. One of the best parts is it helps to keep track of the progress which has been made over the long-term. This can be a total confidence booster."
Knowing the benefits of getting in a certain number of steps can inspire you to get moving and improve your health. Here are seven ways that getting in your steps can affect your health, according to experts.
It Improves Your Mood
Getting moving can also work wonders on your mental state. "Studies out of BMC Public Health Journal and the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports showed that lunchtime walking caused employees to feel more relaxed, reduced stress, increased enthusiasm, and improved performance at work," says Dr. Zembroski.
It Decreases Tension In The Arteries
Cardiovascular exercise such as walking can help improve heart health and decrease tension on the arteries. "Inactivity and sitting have been shown to impair the endothelium — the layer of cells lining our arteries," says Dr. Zembroski. "Endothelial dysfunction is a major cause of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. A study out of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed breaking up the day with short periods of a brisk walk improved endothelial function, preventing stiffening of the arteries."
It Improves Your Cardiovascular Health
Get in those steps, and your heart will thank you. "Making walking (or movement in general) a regular part of your day provides tremendous benefit to the cardiovascular system — your heart, lungs, veins, and arteries," fitness and health coach Rob Arthur, CSCS, PN2, PHC tells Bustle. "Yes, even the simple act of walking necessitates the heart pumping nutrients and oxygen throughout the body via the bloodstream."
It Improves Your Digestion
Staying active can also help with your tummy troubles. "Many of the muscles involved in digestion are stimulated by physical activity," says Arthur. "Additionally, being upright allows for gravity to assist the digestive process. Walking helps kill two birds with one stone, as you’re strolling along upright and helping things move along smoothly."
It Works Your Flexibility & Balance
You might not be thinking about it now, but preserving your balance is important as you get older. "Staying active, particularly as we age, is so important for our flexibility and balance — two things we seem to lose as we age," family physician Dr. Mia Finkelston, who treats patients via telehealth app LiveHealth Online, tells Bustle. "Walking, in addition to stretching, are low impact ways to achieve cardiac health, joint health, and mental well-being."
It Strengthens Your Bones
Getting in your walking can also help improve your bone health. "Weight-bearing exercises such as walking helps to stimulate more bone formation," says Dr. Collman. "Strong bones along with other factors like diet and lifestyle may help to fight diseases like osteoporosis."
Getting in a daily number of steps is more than just a fun challenge — it can improve many aspects of your health.