8 Walking Benefits for Women to Get You Moving

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I made walking more a huge priority over the past couple of years and it’s helped me in so many ways! I wanted to share some of the inspiring data that shows the tremendous health benefits women get from walking more, which become especially significant in our perimenopause and postmenopausal years. Plus, I’m sharing details on how I’ve been able to get more steps in at home, and how walking supports our hormone balance!

In this episode I’m exploring…

⭐ The benefit of walking on our blood sugar and fat storage
⭐ How walking impacts our digestive system and supports good gut health
⭐ How walking helps beat sugar cravings
⭐ Fun tools you can use to get more steps in around the house
⭐ How walking supports our immune system
⭐ How bone density is improved for menopausal women with walking
⭐ How your step count and speed can affect health benefits

Links to follow up from this episode:

  • Get on the list to be the first to know when PeriMenoFit is released!
  • Links for walking pad and weighted vest ideas
  • The Body Fuel System meal plan
  • My Dinner Plan eating system
  • Rock Your Life home workout studio and women’s fitness program for women in their cycling years, in perimenopause and post-menopause

Episode Transcript

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What’s up, Rockstar Coach Betty Rocker here. Thanks so much for joining me today. It’s great to get to spend some time with you. As you’ve probably noticed this season of the podcast, I’m really focused on women’s health throughout our life stages. And with that in mind today I wanted to share some of the research around the benefits of walking, which just has so many health benefits for us as women throughout our entire lives. So here are some stats on walking more that I find really inspiring and they even prompted me to get an inexpensive walking pad that I use daily in my house. Of course, in addition to going outside for walks, which you know, I just find that I walk more when I have the chance to get on my walking pad if I am say watching a show or looking at social media.

And I’ll have some links on the show notes page on my blog for today’s episode. If you wanna see the walking pad that I have and also some of the other ones that I like. A walking pad is just like a low powered treadmill that goes about four miles per hour and it’s pretty compact. Mine slips under my couch to just stay out of the way, though I almost never put it there since I use it so much. I’m actually walking on it right now. Well, I’m recording this episode ’cause I thought it would be fun to, you know, walk and talk to you.

So let’s talk about why I’m walking more these days than ever and why I think it’s such a great intentional practice for all of us. Walking as little as five to 10 minutes after a meal can actually reduce your blood sugar and lower your insulin levels.
Remember keeping our blood sugar stable really helps reduce fat storage. And like we’ve talked about in some of our recent podcasts together, as our estrogen levels decline in the perimenopause and postmenopausal years, we’re much more sensitive to the insulin response in general.

And it can make us more susceptible to things like insulin resistance, which is that condition where our insulin can’t help the glucose from our food we eat, get into our cells and that creates this really dangerous level of sugar in our blood and that can lead to a lot more increased fat storage can lead to things like obesity and set us up for diabetes. So we always want to be aware of the sugar in our meals and especially mindful of it as we get into those menopausal years. But I think it’s really helpful to know that just walking for a bit after we eat can have this really beneficial impact on regulating our blood sugar.

So getting in the habit of going out for a walk after a meal is a great idea and you know, if you can’t do it after every meal just of my all or something mentality and see if you can do it after one meal or maybe after two meals of your day. If you have a dog like I do, you know, you can kind of time your meals to theirs and take them for a walk and that’s a really easy way to do it unless of course it’s too cold or it’s raining. And then my dog will only go out for a second and then he wants to come right back in. And that’s where I really like to use my walking pad. Another thing I have is this very compact stepping device that I take with me when I travel. And I’ll put a link to that on the show notes page as well.

But just having something that you can get some extra steps and some movement in like this low impact movement is just so helpful for us for so many reasons and I’ve talked about sugar cravings before, but a great way to really reduce your sugar cravings and snack cravings is to go for a walk. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15 minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can really reduce cravings and the intake of a variety of sugary snacks. Now of course, paying attention to nutrient balanced meals that include the healthy fiber you need to support good gut health and enough protein to satisfy you and support all of the jobs that your body needs amino acids for will really help you too.

But walking is another great strategy that you can throw in the mix to help you avoid overeating and mindless snacking. I’m a big believer that you know, if you want to eat some chocolate or have dessert, we wanna do that on purpose and really enjoy it. But if we’re constantly like eating sugar and craving sugar and we don’t really have much of a say on why we do it and then we feel guilty for it, that’s something that we wanna mitigate and and try to avoid. Now walking after eating also improves digestion and nutrient absorption by increasing peristalsis, which is the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles that push the contents of our stomach forward. This supports all of our digestive functions, including elimination and having regular bowel movements is an important aspect of eliminating waste from the body, including the removal of excess estrogen, which is super important in perimenopause when our hormone levels first start to get off kilter walking also counteracts the effects of weight promoting genes.

Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity promoting genes and over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. And among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were actually cut in half. So there are the genes we’re born with, which we can’t do anything about, but then there are the lifestyle practices we adopt and choose and those can have a profound impact on how our genes are expressed. It’s so cool to think that there’s such a simple activity like walking that could actually affect our genetic expression right now. Also very cool is that walking for just 20 minutes a day can boost our immune system’s function. Our immune system can be easy to take for granted until we get sick, right then we wish we had done more proactively to support it.

Our lymphatic system is the system in our body with lymph fluid, which is our body’s immune fluid. You probably know you have concentrated areas at key points in your body that contain lymph nodes, which are full of this lymph fluid, those concentrated areas on the side of your neck that might feel swollen when you’re sick. That might come to mind, right? We also have concentrated areas of lymph nodes behind our ears on the back of our head, under our chin and our groin area and the armpit.

And unlike your cardiovascular system which has your heart to pump blood throughout your body, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pumping organ. Instead, it relies on movement to circulate that immune system fluid throughout your system. This is why you’ll often hear it advise to get up and move around as you’re healing because it helps to stimulate the movement of the lymph.

So just walking 20 minutes a day can boost your immune system and protect you during cold and flu season. There was another study of over a thousand people that found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least five days a week had 43% less sick days at work. Now you might need a day off from work , but I’m sure you’d much rather spend it doing something you enjoy than being sick in bed. I know I would, and I think about this when I go out for a walk ’cause I just have a lot to do. , I wanna be healthy when I’m doing it. Now walking in general is also great for your joint health and your bone density. It helps to circulate the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints, allowing oxygen and nutrients to penetrate into those areas. There were several studies that found that walking reduces arthritis related pain and that walking five to six miles a week can even help prevent arthritis from forming in the first place, which is awesome.

Now walking really helps to protect your joints, especially the knees and hips which are more susceptible to osteoarthritis by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them. And if we think back to a recent podcast episode where I was talking about alignment of your pelvis and your spine and how we weight bear through, through our joints, down from our hips into our knees and ankles with good form and that helps us build strength. This is also true of our simplest activities like walking. We were designed to walk and paying attention and being really proactive with our care and our alignment of our joints and bones can just ensure that we’re moving on, you know, an aligned skeleton which is gonna further contribute to a reduction in inflammation and help you have good joint health. Regular walking really does help support our density, which is really important to pay attention to as we age as women and our estrogen levels decline.

There was a study done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital that looked at post-menopausal women and found that even women who did no other form of exercise other than walking for four hours a week, like 30 minutes a day had a reduction in their risk of hip fracture by 40%. You might be years away from being post-menopausal or you might be at that life stage already. And if you’re not there yet, start early and being proactive to keep your bones healthy and strong. And if you’re already there, it’s never too late to improve your bone density with simple activities like walking. One of the top accidents that lead to injury in older women and men over 65 is from falls that fracture or break brittle bones. It’s a very scary statistic and one that is completely avoidable if we focus on strengthening our bodies and walking is a really easy low impact activity that we can all enjoy and it has so many benefits.

Now another key point about walking that’s significant for us as women is that walking can reduce our risk for developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provides this protection even for women with more breast cancer risk factors. So that’s significant. Anything we can do to give us the edge in preventing disease, especially diseases that really affect women is something that I wanna add to my own practices. Walking in general can also really elevate your mood through increasing those feel-good endorphins and helping to reduce anxiety and stress. There was a nurse’s health study that found that women over 65 who walked daily had less memory loss and cognitive decline than women who didn’t.

So if you’re under 65, imagine how much you can impact your brain function now by walking daily. And I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about my own intentions in setting myself up for a healthy future self and how that really influences the decisions I make around taking care of myself today. And I know you can relate and you probably want the same thing for yourself. And that’s why I really wanted to share these benefits that walking really has with you today because it’s such an easy accessible action we can take that has such important health benefits. It’s a great compliment to your exercise routine and it’s an activity you can do on your rest days from your workout programs, you know, walk every day that you can really, in the statistics I shared, I have mostly been focusing on how long you’re walking for instead of a specific step count since that’s what the studies were saying.

And also not everybody has a step counter, but if you do have a step counter, it’s like counting anything else. You know, use it as a data point and don’t use it to judge yourself if you aren’t hitting a specific number of steps every single day. I like to look at my steps, you know, over the course of the day and also, you know, over the course of the week because it does sort of average itself out over time. There’s some days where I walk more, some days where I walk a little less. Um, but I, I would say that I probably like a lot of people am sort of aiming for that 10,000 steps a day. Now I know that that’s a number you’ll hear a lot. Um, and actually where it comes from is back in 1964 there was a really successful marketing campaign done for the Tokyo Olympics where the Japanese character for the number 10,000 actually resembled a person walking.

And this just totally took off and it has become deeply embedded in our consciousness about walking and that’s where this number really originated. But science does support that walking more and walking within that range is really beneficial and that this is a great number to aim for. There was a UK study of over 78,000 people that found that more steps per day up to about 10,000 steps was really associated with a lower risk of all cause cancer, cardiovascular incidents and mortality. And also that the cadence or speed of your steps really improved those specific health benefits as well. So I do like that number. I think it is a fun one to aim for and it doesn’t have to be 10,000 steps all at once. It can be over the course of your day. And if you look at your average over the course of the week, that’s sort of a helpful benchmark over the course of the week, right?

So say you got a little bit less one day, you got a little bit more another day. Um, there’s gonna be some days you’re on your feet more, some days you’re on your feet less, some of you are on your feet all day doing your job and you’re already way past that number. So if you’re sitting more for work, this is really important to, to think about and to focus on. And uh, science really clearly shows that moving some every hour and avoiding long periods of sitting and just walking more in general is really beneficial and something is always better than nothing. So don’t make going for a walk a burden on your to-do list. Just think about how you can add a walk maybe after a meal or after a couple of your daily meals and how you can add more movement and walking to your life in general.

And I mentioned the speed of your walking right now. If you could see me, I am walking pretty slow and I’m able to carry on this conversation with you without getting winded. And I’m not always thinking about how fast I’m walking. If I take the dog for a walk, I let him do his thing. I let him sniff the bushes because it’s like he’s reading his doggy Instagram and like he’s reading the news , right? I don’t wanna rush him along. Sometimes he pulls me along ’cause he’s very excited about something. But I really like make the walks about him and like what he’s into. And of course, you know, he’s very good on the leash. So if I need him to, you know, trot right along, he follows that . But in general, I like to let him enjoy himself when he’s out for his walk.

So I’m not really focused on a specific pace when I’m walking the dog, when I’m on my little walker, my little walking pad and I’m watching a show, sometimes I’ll go at a good clip and it feels really good. But I do have a lot of variety in the speed of my walking and I think that is okay to do. I think if you’re able and you have the time and you’re going out specifically for a power walk, that’s gonna give you great health benefits. But it’s also gonna just give you great health benefits in general to get more walking in no matter what speed you’re walking at, just to get up and move around. So, you know, just keep that in mind. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing with one specific type of walking. We also really wanna be safe and aware of our surroundings when we’re walking outside.

So walking with a friend, that’s a great way to make walking a routine. Stay on a good schedule if you have that opportunity. And it’s great for safety. I mentioned that I walk the dog a couple of times a day, which we both enjoy and look forward to and he’s my little buddy. And if you’re walking alone or with a pet, it’s always a good idea to carry your phone with you. You know, be mindful of your visibility to cars, especially on rainy days or at night. And always stay aware of your surroundings. And if you’re sitting there listening to this podcast right now thinking you need to walk more, hopefully this conversation is inspiring you and you’re already thinking about how you can create it as more of a routine intentionally, right? You can do things like park farther away from the grocery store or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

You can get a lightweight walking pad like I am using today and or a little compact mini stepper. And I’ll of course, like I said, put those links for you in the show notes. Oh, and then another fun tool that I wanted to tell you about when I walk sometimes is a weighted vest and it’s not very heavy. I actually have a lightweight one that’s about eight or 10 pounds I think. And then I have another one that’s adjustable weights that goes up two 20 pounds. And I’ll put those links in the show notes page for you too over on the betty rocker.com. Adding just a little extra resistance with something like a weighted vest can be a really fun way to increase the intensity of a short walk without feeling like you have to speed walk . And it will also increase the resistance you’re using while you’re walking further supporting your muscle tissue and your bone health.

And this is something that I have a lot of friends that they wear their weight packs and they go out in their training for hiking and you know, there’s this whole craze of rucking right now where people are walking with weighted packs and it, it’s really awesome for your health. So if you’re interested in that, you know, you could always take your old backpack and put some books in it or something heavy. You don’t have to buy anything expensive and you can just go out and walk with it. Now a lot of people tell me they like to listen to podcasts while they walk. You might even be listening to this podcast right now while you’re walking. It’s just a great to feed your brain while supporting your physical health. You know, you just, like we were talking about, stay alert if you’re out in public and if you’re around traffic.

And just make sure you can hear other people that your audio volume isn’t turned up so high on your phone that you’re not able to hear the things around you. And speaking of your phone, I’m always using phone timers for things like reminding myself to wind down at night and get ready for bed. So if you sit a lot at work, you can set like a 90 minute or hourly timer reminder to get up and move more throughout the day, which is a great technique that can really help you move more, walk more and just get you, just get you to have a little bit more of that healthy movement that you know is this low intensity that just really supports us in so many ways. So as we wrap up for today, I’ll leave you with a little mini challenge. I want you to write me on social media or comment on the blog post for this episode today and tell me how much you walked in, either minutes or steps, totally your choice, whatever data points you have, and also how you are adding walking into your week this week and moving forward.

Share your walking routine if you have one. And if you don’t have one yet, maybe share the one that you’re planning on creating so that you can have a place to write it down and tell me about it. Your body will be so thankful and I look forward to hearing from you as always. And I will be back soon. So till then, rockstar, thanks for tuning in today and going for a little walk with me. And as all always, I’m Betty Rocker and you are so awesome, blossom and amazing. I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye for now.

This episode brought to you by Rock Your Life!

Rock Your Life is my online workout studio that you can attend from anywhere you are, and access workout challenge programs, healthy recipes, and get coaching and support in our private women’s fitness community for all 4 Pillars of Health. We provide support and strategies for women in training with their cycle, training in perimenopause and training in menopause.

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