From the moment a child takes its first step, the world opens to them. The possibilities are endless for wandering, exploring, making mischief, and keeping up with all the other interesting people. The urge to get up and move is both an instinct and a joy.

Adults, on the other hand, have developed a much different relationship with walking. We seem to go to great lengths to walk as little as possible. We want the closest parking spots at the store, use drive-throughs to avoid getting out of our cars, and ride an elevator one floor instead of taking the stairs.

In this day and age, it is possible to go a whole day without walking a distance longer than from our couch to our car.

Where Did All the Walking Go

In great part, our walking avoidance is a result of cultural conditioning of which most of us aren’t even aware. Our modern culture is built around the vision of luxury and ease, so it seems natural to take advantage of all the technological conveniences available.

While modern technology has been a boon in so many ways, its downside is making movement less necessary.

Yet, movement remains essential to our health and well-being. Lack of movement is responsible for a host of health issues, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, and cancer. (1) Walking, in particular, provides health benefits that it is hard to get anywhere else.

Stay in shape and be fit: What Walking Has That Nothing Else Does

What Walking Has That Nothing Else Does

Taking a walk is a highly recommended way to be physically active. Just 30 minutes of walking can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress, boost the immune system and maintain joint health. (2) However, these benefits do not belong to walking alone, and most forms of physical activity can provide a similar effect.

What makes walking unique is both its universality and its connection with nature.

While not all of us will be runners or gym enthusiasts, or swimmers, walking is a fundamental movement available to most people. In some communities, issues need to be addressed, such as having safe places to walk and more nature spaces available. But, in general, walking is accessible, relatively easy, and requires no special equipment.

The second aspect of walking that makes it special is its opportunity to connect with nature. It’s essentially like getting two for the price of one. In addition to all the physical benefits of taking a walk, being present in nature adds an extra layer of reward.

Physical wellness: Taking a Walk Is More Powerful Than You Might Think

The Powerhouse Couple

While walking is good for our physical and mental health, walking in nature takes it a step farther and boosts mental, creative, and emotional health.

Moving through a natural environment makes us calmer, decreases stress, facilitates creativity and focus and reduces feelings of isolation. (3) People who spend more time in nature report feeling healthier and having a higher sense of well-being. (4) Even the subtle, often overlooked aspects of being outdoors, like hearing birdsong, have been shown to have mental health benefits. (5)

Time spent outdoors comforts and refreshes us, and when we combine it with all the physical benefits of walking, the impact on our overall well-being is exponential.

Make Walking a Daily Routine

In the not-so-distant past, taking a walk was an essential daily activity. It got you where you needed to go and was critical to engaging in the community.

Today, it has become increasingly optional. Because walking is no longer necessary to be active in society, it now feels like an “extra” thing to do, which many don’t have time for.

But, in reality, walking isn’t another thing on our to-do list; it’s a fundamental need. And the good news is that walking meets a whole group of other needs all at once. It is perhaps the most efficient and effective way to improve every area of wellness.

When we walk, we care for our body, mind, and spirit. We are connecting with nature, and if we walk with others, we are simultaneously investing in meaningful relationships. Taking a stroll with family or friends improves the health of everyone involved on so many different levels.

A daily walk might seem too simple, but it could be one of the best things you do for yourself each day.