People are aware of the numerous benefits of regular exercise, and its amazing effects on our emotional, physical and mental health, but very often, they simply lack time to hit the gym and do the workout.
Yet, you no longer have excuses, as a recent study has shown that a 15-minute walk daily can help you reap the similar effects! Namely, this habit can add 7 years to your life and improve your health in various different ways.
According to Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London:
“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”
Researchers from Harvard investigated the effects of walking on cardiovascular health and discovered that:
- Walking nine miles per week led to a 22 % lower death rate.
- Walking for 30 minutes daily led to an 18 % reduced risk of coronary artery disease.
- Walking for three hours per week led to a 35 % lower risk of cardiovascular death and heart attack and a 34 % lower risk of stroke.
Here are some of the benefits of walking on a daily basis:
1. It can lower the risk of diabetes - The findings from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study showed that women that walked for half an hour daily experienced a 30% lower risk of diabetes. Walking was also found to be able to shrink dangerous abdominal fat, which can result in diabetes.
2. It lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease - Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System discovered that men at the age of 71 – 93, who walked more than a 1/4 of a mile daily had half the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in comparison to compared to participants who walked less.
3. It reduces high blood pressure - Researchers found that moderate intensity walking lowers the risk of high blood pressure.
4. It helps digestion - Tara Aleichem, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Center in America, maintains that walking can improve your gastric mobility.
5. It reduces pain and enhances mobility - The American Heart Association published an article that showed that walking on a daily basis can improve mobility in people with PAD (peripheral artery disease).
6. It enhances bone health - People who exercise on a daily basis have healthier and strong teeth, and regular exercise boosts bone density, strengthens the bones and lowers the risk of osteoporosis, fractures, and shrinkage of the spine.
7. It improves cognitive performance - Studies have shown that a regular walk boosts the cognitive performance in both children and adults.
8. Leads to longevity - Numerous studies have proven that regular walking lowers the risk of mortality.
9. It improves mood - The findings of a 2016 study showed that walking at least 20 minutes daily boosts the self-confidence and attentiveness, and reduces the feelings of anger and hostility.
Here are some useful walking tips:
- Pick a suitable pace, as in order to burn calories, you need to walk about 3.5 miles an hour.
- To burn more calories, try an incline walk
- Always wear flexible, low-heeled, cushioned, comfortable shoes
- Walk with the shoulders down, the chin parallel to the ground, and looking straight ahead
- Swing the arms while walking, bend them at 90 degrees and pump the shoulders
You can start walking more by making some tiny changes into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk to school or work
- Go for a short walk after dinner or lunch with friends
- Get off several bus stops before your destination when taking public transport
- Always park your car a bit further and walk to the destination
- Try walk-and-talk meetings at work
- Take your dog for a walk
- Listen to your favourite podcast and walk
Dr.Mercola also suggests:
"While you’re getting in the habit of a daily walk, choose a spot that’s suitable for barefoot walking – like a grassy park or sandy beach – and give it a try. In addition to the physical benefits of walking, walking barefoot allows your body to absorb free electrons from the Earth through the soles of your feet, a practice known as grounding. These electrons have powerful antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences.
For example, one scientific review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health concluded that grounding (walking barefoot on the earth) could improve a number of health conditions, including the following:
- Sleep disturbances, including sleep apnea
- Chronic muscle and joint pain, and other types of pain
- Asthmatic and respiratory conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Energy levels
- Immune system activity and response
- Heart rate variability
- Primary indicators of osteoporosis
- Fasting glucose levels among people with diabetes
I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realise just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day.”