Walking is the easiest way to exercise, especially during the new crown epidemic when most activities are restricted, only walking is relatively free.
According to experts, since the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, the number of people who insist on walking out daily for exercise has increased in many places; experts also encourage people not to underestimate walking, because going out to exercise with legs can actually bring Many unexpected benefits.
The BBC specifically consulted a walking enthusiast, Dr William Bird MBE, a British family doctor, to see what specific benefits walking can bring to you both physically and mentally.
1. Improve the immune system
The COVID-19 pandemic has made people pay more attention to the role played by the immune system. If you want to strengthen your immune system, you might as well start with brisk walking.
The human immune system is the first line of defense when a virus enters. The immune system includes natural killer cells (NKCs), also known as large granular lymphocytes.
Dr. Bird said that many natural killer cells can be found in our nose, intestines and respiratory tract. Therefore, when the virus passes through any of these places, it will encounter these NKCs.
Dr. Bird explained that these natural killer cells did not recognize these viruses because they had never seen them before. But knowing that the virus is harmful, so I eliminated it. After that, eventually the B cells of the immune system also begin to join and produce antibodies.
The more natural killer cells, the faster the immune system responds. Dr. Bird said that just a quick walk will greatly increase your NKCs.
Second, it helps reduce inflammation
Dr. Bird explained that many of our physical and mental illnesses are actually caused by chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. Inflammation is an attack by the body against an “enemy” to protect us.
However, if there is no virus to attack, this inflammation healing ability can actually cause a lot of harm to the human body.
Dr. Bird explained that eating junk food, inactivity, and stress will most likely cause chronic inflammation of the immune system. This is a major factor in many of our diseases.
But walking helps relieve inflammation. One of them is that muscles can release muscle hormones (myokines, also called muscle factors) when walking. Walking promotes the release of this muscle hormone, and then they enter the body to eliminate inflammation.
At the same time, walking can also reduce visceral fat, thereby reducing inflammation.
Third, let the “body battery” work normally
You may remember the phrase “mitochondria is a cell power station” in biology class. But do you know why it is so important?
Bird said that they are actually our body’s batteries that provide us with power. We are 100% dependent on mitochondria, otherwise we would stop working in an instant. And walking allows our battery to work normally.
Bird said that mitochondria need to be constantly moving-they are designed for movement. If you let them stand still, they will stop working as they should.
Bird also compares it to mobile phone charging. He said that when you charge your phone for too long, your phone will get hot. Heat is the leakage of electrons from the battery, which will affect the life of the phone.
Like a battery, if you eat a lot of calories and are sedentary and unable to burn calories, you are overcharging your mitochondria.
When the mitochondria are overcharged, they release unstable atoms called free radicals. It is these free radicals that can cause immeasurable damage to the body, including inflammation.
Walking can interrupt this sedentary phenomenon and prevent these free radicals from leaking and escaping, just like turning off the plug when your phone is fully charged.
Fourth, improve mental health
Do you know how walking helps our brains?
Dr. Bird explained that when you walk, a substance called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is released. The only way to get it into the body is exercise-it absolutely depends on how we move around.
Bird said that this brain-derived neurotrophic factor helps reduce inflammation. Inflammation not only causes physical illness, but also mental health problems. Therefore, reducing inflammation by walking can help you solve problems such as anxiety and depression.
Five, increase creativity
What Aristotle, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard have in common is not only that they are all great philosophers, but that their best sparks of thought are produced when they are walking.
Dr. Bird recommends that people, like those philosophers, use their creativity and imagination in their walking. He said that this is more likely to find inspiration than if you sit there and do nothing.
The philosophers made no secret of the help of walking to their thoughts. Nietzsche once wrote: “All truly great ideas are born in walking.”
The peripatetic school created by Aristotle, as the name suggests, is to travel and walk everywhere.
Six, help strengthen and repair joints
There is a view that joints have a certain life span, so save some use.
Therefore, some people are skeptical of overuse of joints, and they sometimes even avoid walking to reduce joint wear.
But Dr. Bird said it was the opposite. He said, “The more you walk, the more you can repair your cartilage. The thicker the cartilage becomes, the stronger your joints will become.”
Seven, help to live longer
Two researchers, Pace and Plan, found that in Sardinia, Italy, and several other places, centenarians seem to be particularly high. They want to know why people in these places live so long?
Through a large number of interviews with these old people, the researchers found that they have 9 lifestyle factors in common. One is that they are very family-oriented; the other is that they have a clear goal in life.
However, Dr. Bird explained that the main thing was that they all walked on foot, and none of them went to the gym.
Researchers call this “natural exercise”-in essence, those who exercise in our natural evolutionary way live longer and are healthier.