Are your friends gym rats?

I have a lot of friends who spend hours in the gym every day to stay healthy. And I'm thrilled for them.

But if I'm being honest, I've never been one to get excited over lifting weights. The thought of picking up dumbbells over & over again sounds like misery to me. Maybe you feel the same way.

But I do have a form of exercise I really enjoy: walking. It doesn't matter if it's a simple stroll around the neighborhood or a hike through the forest. Walking has always been my go-to form of exercise.

And it turns out, there are a lot of health benefits to walking. Some are obvious, but a few of them may surprise you.

For example, did you know walking can help you lower blood pressure? With cold months coming, it's important to think about how we can lower our blood pressure.

And a good walk may be the cure. In fact, one study found that three 10-minute walks a day helped prevent blood pressure spikes. Pretty neat stuff.

It can also create less stress on your joints. Walking helps build up your muscles, so they can take some of the weight off your joints. The more you walk, the better your knees, hips & ankles could feel.  

It's also good for your mind. Walking can help with feelings of anxiety or depression. So if you're cooped up in your house all day & you're starting to go stir crazy, a quick walk could be the cure.

That's not all though, because walking can also help you express creativity. A Stanford University study found walking helped creative output by 60% on average.

What made walking so good at unlocking these creative ideas? The researchers think it's something called "divergent thinking." It's a thought process used to generate new ideas by exploring creative solutions. According to the study, "walking opens up the free flow of ideas."

So you may be wondering "alright Jeff, what do I need to do to get these benefits?" Well, it's a lot more than starting the treadmill and zoning out. 

The trick is to add variables. You want to constantly raise & lower your heart rate instead of keeping it at one steady pace. If you're walking out in nature, try finding some hills to climb. Or if you're walking a track, try speeding up for a lap, then slowing down.

And if you're using a treadmill, customize it! Try adjusting the speed, incline or even try some new styles of walking (like lunges or strides).

If you follow these ideas, you'll be walking like a champ in no time! And burning plenty of calories in the process.

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