If you’re new to a consistent exercise routine, it can be daunting planning workouts to do. One thing to keep in mind is that not every workout needs to be intense. It’s important to have a balance between workouts that challenge you and push you to be better, along with less intense workouts to keep up that movement. One of the best low-intensity workouts you can do is simply walking. Here are some of the benefits of walking as exercise that will convince you to fit it in your workout regimen.

Mental Health Benefits

Walking has shown its effectiveness at relieving stress. This is especially true for walks outside in nature, which can almost function as therapy sessions. Being in nature boosts your mood, so that coupled with the stress-relieving benefits of walking make it a great way to protect your mental health when you start to feel stress and anxiety pile up. Research has also found walking to reduce the risk of depression. When you start to feel negative emotions, try stepping outside for a ten-minute walk. Aim for three of these per day. 

Walking can also be one of the best mid-work day breaks when you’re starting to feel burned out or uninspired. One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent. Also, another study found that only 12 minutes of walking showed notable jumps in attentiveness, positivity and self-confidence. Take a ten to 15 minute walk when you can throughout the work day. Not only will you be helping your step count, but your mental health and performance, too.

Physical Benefits of Walking as Exercise

Some of the noted benefits of walking as exercise include improving cardiac health, reducing fatigue, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation and posture, and more. Not only is great for burning calories and improving fitness in the short term, it’s easy enough on the body to continue long term. And you’re going to want to continue it for the long haul. Studies show those who walk frequently (compared to those with little leisure-time activity) have a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. What’s more, these results were the same compared to the benefits of running. So if running’s not your thing, sub it out for walking. Experts say that, especially in the older years of life, a daily walk can reduce your risk of death by 39% compared to those who are sedentary.

The main takeaway is that along with the short term benefits on fitness and mood, walking is one of the best habits to adopt because of its long term protecting effects on the body. Even if you work out intensely a few times a week, adding in walking is a great addition to get you closer to your health goals.