If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you’re well-aware of the many benefits of the lifestyle, setting your own hours, being your own boss, working in your pajamas, earning $35,000 in your first month and buying a brand-new Land Rover with just a few hours of work a week…um, scratch that last one, that didn’t work out. But freelancing does have its perks. Unfortunately, it also has its disadvantages, like long hours, working weekends and holidays, a non-existent social life, and a sedentary daily existence. Not much you can do about the first two if you want to pay the bills, and the third requires real-life human beings, but the last one is something you can do something about all by yourself with surprisingly little effort. Turns out, you don’t have to spend money on a gym membership or engage in grueling cardio workouts to be fit and healthy; you can simply walk your way to fitness, well-being, and good health.
New Research Yields Surprising Results
Walking is one of the most studied forms of exercise, and the long-term benefits to health have long been known. It’s also the most popular activity and has the lowest rate of injury. And recent studies have shown that you don’t need to do as much of it to achieve better health and longevity than was once thought. For many years fitness experts recommended at least 10,000 steps daily to realize positive results. That’s quite a bit of walking—approximately five miles—and many people don’t have the time or physical ability to accomplish it. But a researcher at Massachusett’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, studying the effects of walking on older women, found that as little as 4,400 steps a day lowered their risk of death by 41%, and that percentage continued to rise up to 7,500 steps per day before leveling off. She was confident that the same results would be realized in men. Other researchers found that people who walked briskly rather than casually increased their lifespan even more, and that this was true regardless of waist size or body mass index.
The bottom line is that any physical activity is better than none, and that even a non-strenuous exercise like walking 15–30 minutes a day can greatly improve overall health regardless of age or body type. And the holistic improvement you can expect is truly impressive.
The Fabulous Benefits Of Walking
Lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels
Freelance writers and other professionals are often stressed-out and overburdened by their deadline-driven work lives, and this leads to eating a lot of fast food and junk, which of course can result in high blood pressure, too much bad cholesterol, and higher blood glucose levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Regular walking can significantly reduce all three.
Increased weight loss and improved muscle tone
Everyone knows that the obesity epidemic is a major cause of poor health these days, and walking can burn up to 100 calories in 30 minutes without breaking a sweat. It also works the muscles in the legs, back, and upper body, increasing strength and flexibility and bone density as well.
Lessening of allergy symptoms
Allergy sufferers are often tempted to stay indoors during the pollen season, but studies have shown that just short periods of walking can reduce their misery by as much as 70%. There have even been studies done to determine the specific speed you should walk to reduce your intake of airborne pollutants, including those that exacerbate allergies.
Enhanced mood and happiness
The freelancing life can often be a depressing one with its loneliness and financial ups and downs. Studies have shown that walking and other types of exercise combats negative emotional states and can even restructure your nervous system to make you feel happier and more optimistic. Exposure to sunlight alleviates seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and just being out in a natural environment has the same effect.
Money in the bank
No need to spend big bucks on gym memberships, yoga classes, or expensive equipment, walking costs nothing except maybe some comfy shoes and clothing, unless you do your strolling at the mall, in which case you may be susceptible to sudden impulse buying.
You’ll sleep better
In our fast-paced, hectic society, sleeping problems are endemic, with many people turning to pharmaceutical solutions. Regular walkers, even those with chronic insomnia, report longer and a much better quality of sleep, without the drugs.
Freelance writers will love the fact that walking has been shown to improve the types of thinking processes that influence imagination and creativity. So the next time you’re experiencing writer’s block, try taking a short stroll.
All this isn’t to say that more strenuous types of exercise won’t be more beneficial, but that’s only true up to a point, and there’s a greater chance of injury, weakening of the bones, and internal damage. If you’re not inclined to a regular vigorous workout, just set aside some time each day to experience the amazing benefits of simply walking.
Bob P is a lifelong collector of books and an avid reader with a wide variety of literary interests, but especially enjoys short horror fiction, action-adventure and history. He also enjoys hunting and fishing, finding and identifying wildflowers, edible wild plants and mushrooms. Bob is a commercial pilot and is interested in general aviation and aviation history. He also enjoys classical and jazz music and is a jazz trumpet player and collector.