Walking is one of the simplest activities we do every day. Everyone takes it for granted, but a new study has shown that walking actually has numerous benefits for our health. The French study revealed that we must pay more attention to the benefits of walking especially as we get older.
According to the study, people over 65 experience the most benefits of walking. The study lasted for 12 years and showed that 15 minutes of walking a day can reduce the risk of death by 22%, and the percentage was even higher when people walked for longer. As the leader of the study said, age should not be an excuse for no physical activity – staying physically active even by walking can improve our overall health. However, the unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle we all lead leaves us with almost no time for any kind of physical activity, resulting in an increased risk of serious diseases and conditions.
The findings shouldn’t come as a surprise – although basic, walking can improve our health on many levels. Some people don’t think much of it and don’t consider it aerobic. However, aerobic exercise is defined as an activity that makes the heart pump blood and increases the respiratory rate, which is exactly what walking does. This means that this simple act can improve your circulation and respiratory and cardiovascular function, even if you’re walking slow. Our bodies were meant for movement, not sitting on a chair all day long.
The sedentary lifestyle most of us lead is the main cause for our increased mortality rate. The so-called sedentary death syndrome is very real and is a major health concern around the world, responsible for thousands of premature deaths every year.
According to a last year study, increasing the duration of walking in obese children to at least 45 minutes a day and 5 times a week improves their lung capacity and helps them lose weight as well. The popular interval training is not just for intense workouts – it can easily be applied to walking in order to get the most out of the activity.
Taking a walk in nature doesn’t offer only physical benefits – it’s good for our mental health as well. The landscape will help you clear things off your mind and reduce your stress levels, effectively helping you relax. Furthermore, walking outside will help you boost your vitamin D levels through the sunshine exposure. Vitamin D is a highly important nutrient and lack of it has been related to a host of serious health problems.
Regular walking will certainly improve your mobility, as any weight-bearing activity reinforces the muscle and bones and boosts the nutrient transportation in the body, which means more oxygen and blood for your tissues. Even the Arthritis Foundation recommends walking in cases of arthritis, as the physical inactivity worsens the symptoms of inflammatory conditions.
According to The American Heart Association, walking can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, regulate the triglyceride and cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems such as stroke. Experts say that we all need at least 30 minutes a day of walking, or a total of 150 minutes a week. You don’t need to walk for half an hour at once – instead, take a 15-minute walk in the morning and another one in the evening. Walking before going to bed will also help you sleep better and is very effective against insomnia.
A recent meta-analysis of about ten studies done on walking discovered that the activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems by 30% and the risk of premature death by 32%. Even better, the study found that walking 5.5 miles a week significantly cuts down the risk of serious life-threatening diseases.
We can’t all go to the gym, but we can all take a walk. Ditch the car and start walking more often in order to reap the benefits of this simple pastime activity.