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Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible forms of exercise, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when most activities are restricted and only walking outside is relatively free.
According to experts, the number of people walking outside every day has increased in many places since the outbreak of COVID-19. Experts also encourage people not to underestimate walking, as there are many unexpected benefits to getting out and getting your legs moving.
The BBC asked Dr William Bird MBE, a British family doctor and avid walker, to find out what specific physical and mental benefits walking offers.
What's more,you can wear a BP smart watch to record your steps,distance and calories while walking exercise.
Boost the immune system
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused more attention on the role of the immune system. If you want to strengthen your immune system, start with a brisk walk.
The body's immune system is the virus's first line of defense. The immune system includes natural killer cells, or NKCs, also known as large granular lymphocytes.
Dr. Bird says many natural killer cells are found in our nose, gut and respiratory tract. So viruses encounter these NKCs as they pass through any of these places.
Dr. Bird explained that the natural killer cells did not recognize the virus because they had never seen it before. But they knew the virus was bad, so they killed it. Eventually, the B cells of the immune system join in and produce antibodies.
The more natural killer cells there are, the faster the immune system responds. Just a brisk walk can greatly increase your NKCs, says Dr. Bird.
Help reduce inflammation
Dr. Bird explains that many of the ills of our bodies and minds are actually caused by chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury. Inflammation is the body's attack on the "enemy" to protect us.
However, without a virus to attack, this ability to heal inflammation can actually do a lot of damage to the body.
Eating junk food, not exercising and stress can lead to chronic inflammation of the immune system, explains Dr Bird. This is a major contributor to many of our diseases.
But walking helps reduce inflammation. One of them is the release of myokines (muscle factors) from your muscles when you walk. Walking triggers the release of these muscle hormones, which then travel throughout the body to reduce inflammation.
Walking also reduces visceral fat, which in turn reduces inflammation.
Let the "body battery" work properly
You may remember from biology class that "mitochondria act as a power station for cells". But do you know why it's so important?
'They are essentially our body's batteries, powering us,' says Dr. Bird. We are 100 percent dependent on mitochondria, otherwise we would stop working in an instant. And walking keeps our batteries working.
Mitochondria need to be constantly in motion -- they're designed for that, says Bird. If you let them stand still, they will stop working as they should.
Byrd also compares it to charging your phone. He says when you charge your phone for too long, it heats up. Heat is when electrons leak out of the battery and can affect the life of the phone.
Like batteries, if you're eating a lot of calories and sitting too long to burn them off, you're overcharging your mitochondria.
When mitochondria make an electrical transition, they release unstable atoms called free radicals respectively. It's these free radicals that can do untold damage to the body, including causing inflammation.
Walking can interrupt this sedentary behavior and prevent these free radicals from escaping, just like turning off your phone when it's fully charged.
Improve mental health
Do you know how walking helps our brains?
When you walk, Dr. Byrd explains, you release a substance called brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. The only way to get it into the body is through movement - it's absolutely up to us to get moving.
Bird says this brain-derived neurotrophic factor helps reduce inflammation. Inflammation can lead to mental health problems as well as physical problems. So reducing inflammation by walking can help you deal with things like anxiety and depression.
What Aristotle, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard have in common is not only that they were great philosophers, but that their best intellectual spark was generated while they were walking.
Dr. Byrd advises people to be creative and imaginative in their walking, like the philosophers. He says you're more likely to find inspiration than if you just sit there and do nothing.
The philosophers made no secret of how walking helped their minds. Nietzsche once wrote that "all really great thoughts are conceived in walking".
And the peripatetic school founded by Aristotle was, as the name suggests, a school of traveling and walking.
Help strengthen and repair joints
There's this idea that joints have a lifespan, so you need to be frugal.
As a result, some people are skeptical of overusing their joints, and they sometimes even avoid walking to reduce joint wear and tear.
But Dr. Bird says the opposite is true. 'The more you walk, the more cartilage you repair,' he says. 'The thicker the cartilage becomes, the stronger your joint becomes.'
Help you live longer
Researchers Pace and Pollan found that the Italian island of Sardinia, among several other places, seems to have a particularly high number of centenarians. They want to know why people live so long in these places.
Through extensive interviews with the elderly, the researchers found that they shared nine lifestyle factors. One is that they are very family-oriented; Another is that they all have a clear purpose in life.
But, Dr. Bird explained, the main thing was that they all walked and none of them went to the gym.
Researchers call this "natural exercise" -- essentially, people who move the way we naturally evolved live longer and are healthier.