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Walk! You’ll Live Longer

IncreaseLifespanWalkSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

If research showed that walking twenty minutes each day could add several years to your lifespan, would that be enough to motivate you? It’s enough to convince 30% of American adults who take a daily walk for their health and enjoyment. For many baby boomers, as the reality of age-related aches and pains sets in, so does the realization that, although we can’t prevent growing older, we can take steps to stay healthier longer. Likely, if there were a miracle pill that could actually prevent or manage chronic diseases, help with weight maintenance, strengthen bones and improve mood with absolutely no side effects, not many would refuse it. Perhaps, if health practitioners wrote prescriptions for health care rather than sick care, we might all find time for a daily walk, as well as look for any opportunity to get in additional movement each day.

Turns out, daily walking may be the best anti-aging prescription of all. Researchers have known since the 1950’s that sickness and mortality rates are directly affected by inactivity. Exercise scientists who study physical activity have found that the more we sit, the more likely we are to die prematurely. Our bodies are designed to move, yet the average office worker sits for 9 – 10 hours a day, plus the additional hours spent sitting at home in the evenings. Actually, one might consider prolonged sitting one’s worst enemy when it comes to longevity, as we now know that prolonged sitting is deleterious to our health and is associated with much higher risks of developing life-shortening chronic illnesses. As some studies have shown, 150 minutes of brisk walking each week is a small price to pay for the prospect of a longer, healthier, more active lifespan.

There’s good reason why people are turning to standing desks, as health professionals recommend standing during at least 50% of your work day, as well as mixing in other low intensity activities, including pacing while talking on the phone, holding walking or standing meetings, and getting away from your desk at lunchtime. Once there is an awareness, many opportunities for frequent bits of movement throughout the day will begin to present themselves. There are mixed opinions on whether an hour of activity each day can negate the effects of sitting for extended time periods. However, studies have shown that walking has many health benefits, including lowered risks of obesity, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive loss, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer, as well as improved mobility and blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

  • Walking requires no special equipment beyond a good pair of sneakers.
  • It’s easy, inexpensive and takes no special skills.
  • It’s the most accessible form of exercise that can be done anywhere.
  • Those who have been sedentary for a while, can start slowly and work toward an overall goal of 20 – 30 minutes daily.
  • Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise and allows for time outdoors to enjoy nature.
  • Walking with your pet will help with their weight management and increase their overall health as well.
  • By strengthening leg muscles and muscles around the joints, walking helps to reduce pain associated with arthritis, improves mobility and reduces the risk of hip fractures.
  • Walking in short bouts will also increase fitness. If you have only 10 minutes, make them active minutes.

References:
Daily walking is the best anti-aging prescription. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/daily-walking-is-the-best-anti-aging-prescription/article31310961/
12 Benefits of Walking. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/walking/wow-of-walking.php
Walk, Don’t Run, Your Way to a Healthy Heart. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walk-Dont-Run-Your-Way-to-a-Healthy-Heart_UCM_452926_Article.jsp
10 Reasons To Go For A Walk Right Now. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/13/health-benefits-of-walking_n_7544280.html
Health experts have figured out how much time you should walk each day. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/02/medical-researchers-have-figured-out-how-much-time-is-okay-to-spend-sitting-each-day/