Have you ever said to yourself, “I need to lose weight?” Have you ever worked hard to lose body fat and get fit? Chances are, you said yes to one or both of these questions.

We no longer blindly accept the underweight runway models of years past as the ideal way to look. France has banned underweight models altogether, and Americans have created programs like The Body Project to create dissonance between underweight models and realistic body types. However, many of us still long to change and improve our bodies for health reasons. (1, 2, 3)

The Dangers of Being Overweight

Although we might be shifting away from accepting underweight models as the ideal body type, we are also becoming fatter. Many of us are obese, and we are dying prematurely as a result. In fact, as of 2016, a whopping 39.8% of Americans were obese, or had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, with middle-aged Americans having the highest rate of obesity of all age groups. Being obese or overweight has numerous life-threatening health risks, including increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Incredibly, some forms of cancer are actually linked to being overweight as well, including post-menopausal breast cancer, colon cancer, and gallbladder cancer. In addition to causing life-threatening health issues, being overweight can also cause pregnancy problems and osteoarthritis. What’s more, being overweightmight also negatively impact mental health by contributing to depression and anxiety. (1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13)

The Good News

While these facts and statistics are depressing, there is good news! If you are overweight, losing only 5-10% of your body weight – safely and without rushing – can improve many health ailments, including preventing many of those listed above, and more. Additionally, you can start to control your blood sugars and decrease your blood pressuresimply by losing excess weight. Being a healthy weight will also give you additional energy in your day-to-day life, and could even help you have a healthier self esteem. (8, 9)

The Secrets to Changing Your Body

Secret #1

Although there are hundreds of weight loss pills on the market and diet fads on the web, there is a very simple secret to changing your body: Use more calories than you take in. In other words, the more calories you ingest, the more you should move. (10)

Secret #2

Before you decide to severely restrict your caloric intake, join a fancy gym, or purchase exercise equipment, consider the completely-free and super-healthy way to move more: walking.

Health Benefits of Walking

Sometimes, we overlook the simplest and best solutions to our problems, and we trade them in for expensive or trendy options. The truth is, walking is an exceptional form of exercise, and it may have more benefits than you realize. Consider this: To stay healthy, adults need thirty minutes of aerobic activity per day. If you think you don’t have time to exercise for 30 minutes a day – have no fear. You can walk briskly twice a day for just fifteen minutes at a time, and still get your aerobic exercise in, plusreaping the many little-known benefits of walking. Of course, the more weight you need to lose, the longer you should walk. (11)

Physical Benefits of Walking

Most people know that walking burns calories, but there are dozens of additional benefits to this easy form of exercise. Of course, because it burns calories, walking also helps you lose body fat and change your body. Walking every day can also help build endurance. In addition to these basic walking benefits, walking actually strengthens bones, improves balance, and helps with pain management. For people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, walking can be helpful in controlling blood sugars. Adding a walking routine to your life may also help prevent or manage cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular health. (12, 14)

Mental Benefits of Walking

Walking offers an abundance of positive effects on the mind as well. Walking every day can help you manage stress; improve creativity; enhance moods; and connect you with nature, which in itself has a plethora of benefits. When combined with meditation, as little as ten minutes of brisk walking can enhance mood. In a 2013 study, people who walked also had more creative output after walking, when compared to those who did not walk. Furthermore, walking offers us the opportunity to go outside, which has both mental and spiritualbenefits. Walking in nature helps to improve mood, calm anxiety, and improve self-esteem. (15, 16)

Conclusion

Walking is a simple and inexpensive way to lose weight, improve physical health, and benefit the mind. In just fifteen minutes a day, you can start to reap amazing benefits.

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