Most of us know that exercise is a must, but nevertheless few manage to find time for morning jogging or some other routine that would benefit their health. Whatever the reason, it can be way easier to help your body, mind and spirit: regular 15-minute walks can be as good as a full-scale workout, researchers say.
Image Credit: telegraph.co.uk
How Walking Affects Disease Risk
There have been a number of studies which proved walking is as good an exercise as workouts. According to one of them, walking for only 15 minutes a day can benefit your health condition and result in decreased mortality, thus helping add up to seven years of life, according to statistics. The study covered sixty-nine people aged 30-60, and researchers reported better longevity among those who were engaged in regular exercise.
If this small amount of participants makes you doubt the results, consider this: according to the three recent Harvard studies, walking 9 miles a week may lead to a death rate reduced by 22% among males (these figures were obtained in the course of following more than 10,200 Harvard graduates). As to women, 3-hour weekly walks were associated with a 34% decrease in strokes and 35% decrease in heart attacks among nurses. If it’s not enough to make you go for a walk, take a look at these data: coronary artery disease risk was decreased by 18% among those men who strolled for 30 minutes a day (the number of the participants of this study made up over 44,400 males).
Oxford researchers agree: walking for at least 20 minutes a day can lower your risk of premature death of up to a third. Evidence provided by major universities, such as Harvard and Oxford, as well as special organizations, including the Stroke Association, suggests that walking is beneficial in a number of ways:
- Weight-promoting genes are suppressed if you walk regularly: walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can cut the effect of 32 obesity-promoting genes by about 50%. It was found in a study in which more than 12,000 people were enrolled.
- The University of Exeter contributed to walking benefits studies: according to its experts, a 15-minute walk can help you stop craving chocolate and sugary snacks.
- The American Cancer Society reported that walking 7 hours a week can help reduce the risk of breast cancer by 14%, compared to those women who walked 3 hours per week or less.
- Walking for 20 minutes a day 5 days a week can boost your immune system and help you avoid flu: such an approach can cut the number of sick days by the whopping 43%, compared to those who exercise only once a week. Besides, if those who like regular walking get sick, they are more likely to suffer from such diseases for a shorter period with milder symptoms.
- Arthritis-related pain in joints can also be alleviated by means of regular walking.
- A link between cognitive performance and walking has recently been found in Canada: walking can help fight dementia, as this activity proves to be able to help improve brain function. Besides, it can help reduce the risk of diabetes and lower blood pressure.
- Walking benefits your mood: it has been shown by Dr. Jeff Miller and Dr. Zlatan Krizan that walks can increase the level of happiness.
- The last but not the least is that walking gives you another opportunity to get more vitamin D which is produced by our body using sun rays.
How Can I Squeeze In More Walking?
These reasons to stand up and go for a walk look very convincing, and not only because this data is backed by extensive research: most people can remember how pleasant it is to walk and how it affects their health. Yet many still think they cannot find time for such walks. In most cases, it’s not that difficult.
- Get off a bus a couple of stops earlier. It won’t take much time, but will benefit your health.
- Walk your dog. If you don’t have a pet, it can be a good reason to adopt one!
- Go for a quick walk after lunch: it will take about 15 minutes without making you feel exhausted.
- Instead of taking an elevator, opt for good old stairs.