Walking is the simple activity we all take for granted, but according to a recent French study, it has numerous benefits for our health especially as we age.
Health benefits of walking
According to the study, walking has a significant positive impact on the health in people over 65. The study lasted for 12 years and showed that regular walks of 15 minutes can reduce the mortality rate by 22%. Longer and more frequent walks improved this number even further. One of the leading scientists on the study stated: “Age is not an excuse to do no exercise. It is well established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment. But less than half of older adults achieve the recommended minimum of 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise each week.”
Of course, these results shouldn’t come as a surprise. As it’s so basic, walking has been taken for granted for a long time. Rarely anyone sees it as an aerobic exercise, and we all ignore the benefits of a simple walk. However, aerobic exercise describes an exercise that stimulates the heart and respiratory rate and pumps oxygen to the muscles, which is exactly what walking does.
By increasing the intensity, more nutrients can get where they need to in the body. In this way, the body uses energy instead of storing it, which strengthens the muscles, organs and bones. The sedentary lifestyle we all lead today is the source of many diseases and conditions. The low levels of physical activity have caused major health problems for millions of people, and has been responsible for many premature deaths as well.
Another study from 2016 discovered that walking for 45 minutes a day can help obese children lose weight and improves their lung capacity. Furthermore, the study showed that fast walking mixed with slow walks can improve your fitness levels better than any HIIT training. Enjoying a walk in nature can also boost our mental health – walking outdoors can relax your mind, reduce depression and improve your mood, which is why you should often take walks. Additionally, by taking walks every day our body is able to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem that is spreading like epidemic nowadays, and has been linked to serious health problems.
According to a Stanford study, even an inside walk can help – it has almost all the effects of the outside walk sans a few, so whether in or out, walking is significantly better than sitting in front of the TV or computer.
Like a walk in the park
When a body part hurts, we don’t want to touch it, but frequent walks can improve our mobility and reduce pain and the risk of injury. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking can repair the connective tissue and bones and increase the blood circulation as well. This is why organizations such as The Arthritis Foundation recommends walking every day.
On the other hand, The American Heart Association says that walking can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, while also lowering the risk of diabetes and stroke. The organization recommends half an hour of walking a day, or a total of 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Two 15-minute walks can be just as good as one 30-minute walking session, and will provide numerous health benefits as well.
According to a study conducted by The Sleep Foundation, walking can improve your sleep as well. “…a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise,” it was written in the study.
One meta-analysis of studies conducted in 7 countries revealed that regular walking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and the mortality by 32%. Walking for at least 5.5 miles per week at 2 mph. can protect you from serious health problems. Most people aren’t able to hit the gym constantly, but we can all walk. Our bodies are meant for movement, so we should either use them or lose them, right?