Surprising Benefits of Walking, How to Walk (and, in what shoes)

TheSkinny: As walking is one of the most basic human activities, you may be surprised to learn that there used to be a monthly glossy magazine dedicated to it. (Yes. It was called…WALKING.). We’re going back to basics and learning how to appreciate the simple art of walking.
How to walk: If you think you have a handle on this, prepared to be schooled by instructive videos from a posture coach and a physical therapist. As one commenter noted: “I literally just did a search for ‘how to walk.’” Get ready to walk like never before, since you’re probably doing everything wrong—from arm swinging to your hip position, to how you roll your foot.

The power of walking: Some of the more obvious benefits of walking are stress reduction (hence the term, “walk it off”) and weight loss. Lesser known might be its ability to help you sleep better and aid digestion, which—in addition to socializing with friends—are reasons why Italians traditionally take a well-heeled passeggiata after every meal. Just 15 minutes every day after meals can help you lose weight. Harvard Medical School has outlined five surprising benefits of walking, which include the abilities to boost immune function and curb cravings. So, the next time you’re about to settle in on the couch with a pint of ice cream after dinner, opt for a 15-minute walk instead—which studies have shown will help resist the urge.

Finally, have you heard of meditative walking or forest bathing? Now you know! We’ve written about forest bathing before, but it’s worth mentioning again as the weather warms up and we can go outside. The practice, also called shinrin-yoku, is popular in Japan but gaining ground globally…perhaps as an antidote to increased populations living in urban areas. The idea is to walk in a forest, taking in your surroundings with every sense. The number one rule is: Do as little as possible. Meditative walking, which is really mindful walking to relieve stress, is something to try if the idea of meditating lying still doesn’t work for you. Here’s how to give it a try.

Now, get out there and walk. But take care of your dogs by treating them to a proper shoe. We’ve done the work for you with these lists of the best walking sandals for men (reviewer-approved, from Travel & Leisure), and for women (from Prevention, and according to podiatrists).

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