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What are the benefits of walking outdoors?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Any time you can walk in the great outdoors, do -- especially if you're tense and frustrated. Walking (like any physical activity) helps you destress, control anger and get your head straight. A walk on the treadmill might do the trick, but walking with Mother Nature works even better.

Is it the fresh air, the sunshine and the greenery? It's probably all that and more. There's something about the great outdoors that gives walking (or any workout) an extra kick. You feel more alive, energetic and optimistic -- and more committed to walking every day (experts have studied this).

There's more:
  • You'll burn a few extra calories. Credit wind resistance, dodging people/potholes/puddles, and going up and down slopes. Real hills make even more of a difference (and firm your tush).
  • You'll like yourself more. Self-esteem jumps from all kinds of "green exercise," including outdoor hiking, biking, surfing, tennis or just striding around the neighborhood.
  • You'll think better. Just 90 days of moderate walking boosts blood flow to your brain by 15%. Walking also lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • You'll have fun. Watching people, pets and babies is better than watching most TV.
  • You might just get lucky. Whether you're looking for love, work or new ideas for the front door, leaving home can help you find it.

There are many benefits of walking including:

  • Decreased resting heart rate
  • Improved circulation
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • More efficient breathing
  • Increased metabolism

 When you combine all these benefits with walking outdoors, you’ll also gain psychological benefits such as reduced stress and greater relaxation. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.