7 Ways That Walking Through Forests Changes Your Life

I once worked with someone who lived two blocks from where we worked. One day I said to her that I thought she was fortunate to live close enough to work to walk since gas prices were so high. She said, "Oh, I still drive my car." Shocked, I asked why. She said that in the Summer it's too hot and in the Winter it's too cold to walk.

I thought those were pretty lame excuses, especially since we lived in Central Arizona where it hardly ever rained, Winters were rarely colder than 35 degrees F and it was cool in the mornings in Summer. It probably took her longer to get into her car, start it, back out of her driveway, drive to work, turn off the car, get out and walk into our building than it would have for her to just walk.

Walking has been proven to be one of the best exercises you can do. Unlike running or jogging, it's easy on the joints; you don't need any special equipment; you can do it anywhere; it doesn't cost a dime (after the expense of getting a good pair of walking shoes); people of any age and at any level of health can do it; and it has many health benefits. It doesn't take a lot of time out of your day to reap the health benefits, either. A brisk 30 minute walk 3 or more times per week is all you need do.

I added walking to my exercise routine many years ago. Since my chosen form of exercise is yoga, I walked to add some cardio. You might say I'm crazy for saying this, but walking has contributed to some amazing changes in my life. And, it can change your life, too. Don't believe me? Read on for 7 ways walking can change your life.

1. It builds muscle

While strength training is the best way to build muscle, walking can also help build and tone your muscles. It's especially effective if you wear ankle and wrist weights while you walk.

2. It helps you sleep better

Before I added walking to my routine, I had frequent sleepless nights. Since I started walking, I sleep like a baby.

3. It makes you happier

Walking can decrease stress levels and help relieve depression by increasing the release of serotonins and endorphines into your system. Just being outside in the fresh air and sunshine elevates my mood and makes me feel happier. Add walking to that, and my happiness increases exponentially!

4. It energizes you

You'll be surprised by how much more energy you have after you take a walk! More energy means you stay more focused and can get more work done. It also means you have more energy to play with your kids, start a hobby, go out more, etc. The possibilities are endless!

5. It makes you want to eat healthier

I noticed this right away after I started walking. I used to love to sit down with some potato chips or ice cream in the evenings when I watched TV. Now, I really think about the food I want to put into my body. I am walking to maintain my weight, feel healthier and BE healthier. Why ruin those goals by eating junk?

6. It improves your overall health

Just a few of the health benefits include: healthier cardiovascular system, helps decrease blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, strengthens bones and muscles, and improves balance and coordination. In fact, this study found that normal-weight people who walk briskly 150 minutes per week actually added an extra 7.2 years to their lifespan!

7. Increases the bond with your partner

Walking with your partner is a real bonding experience. It gives you time to talk about the day, make plans and just enjoy being out in nature together. It's also a health goal that you can work on together. And we all know that it's so much easier to stay in a healthy routine when you have someone to share it with.