There’s very few people I know who don’t think about exercise and know that it’s something they really should be doing more of. Is it any surprise that IMHO walking is the best exercise that you can do? Although I’m a fan of walking in nature, it doesn’t have to be that way. To prove how good walking is for us, here’s 21 reasons why walking works:
1. HELPS YOUR HEART
Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and diabetes, according to a new study out of Berkeley, California. All three conditions are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
2. DEALS WITH DIABETES
Extensive research links brisk walking to a significant risk reduction for developing type-2 diabetes. A recent British study found that people with a family history of the disease who walked briskly improved insulin sensitivity.
3. TAKES STROKES IN IT’S STRIDE
Walking significantly reduces the risk of stroke and aids stroke recovery. Long-term research shows that both men and women with increased fitness levels who did regular brisk walking had up to 40 per cent lower risk of suffering a stroke than those with the lowest fitness level.
4. HELPS BEAT BREAST CANCER
Women who regularly walk after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a 45 per cent greater chance of survival than those who are inactive, according to Yale University research.
5. GIVES ANXIETY THE BIG A
Twenty minutes of moderate-intensity walking a day can help manage stress and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream, according to research.
6. IT’S AN ENERGISER
A brisk walk is one of the best natural energisers around as it boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply, helping you feel more alert. It wakes up stiff joints and eases muscle tension so you feel less sluggish, research shows.
7. IS GREAT FOR THE MIND
With one in four Aussie kids suffering emotional health disorders, walking has a proven positive effect on children suffering anxiety low self-esteem. And for adults, studies have shown regular brisk walking to be as effective as anti-depressants in cases of mild to moderate depression.
8. KICKS COLON CANCER
There is convincing evidence that physical activity protects against colon cancer. For cancer prevention, the evidence suggests 60 minutes of brisk walking every day to be most beneficial.
9. DELAYS DEMENTIA
Studies on men and women aged 60 to 80 found that taking a short walk three times a week increased the size of brain regions linked to planning and memory and is the best way to delay dementia, new research shows.
10. KEEPS YOU LOOKING GOOD
Walking is the perfect exercise, says the Harvard Medical School, and helps you look good, too. Walking can help strengthen and shape calves, quads, hamstrings and lift glutes, especially if you add hills. Paying attention to posture while walking can also tone abs and whittle the waist.
11. IS CHEAP AND EASY
Walking is rated by health care professionals as the most accessible form of physical activity because it’s safe, the least expensive form of exercise and has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise.
12. HELPS YOU LIVE LONGER
For every hour of brisk walking, life expectancy can increase by up to two hours. And it gets easier – walking for as few as 30 minutes a day improves your heart by raising the heart rate and increasing exercise tolerance.
13. IS AN IDEAL KICK STARTER
New international survey findings reveal one in three Australians is obese, making the country one of the world’s fattest nations. Walking is a proven kick start to weight loss.
14. BURNS FAT
Walking is the easiest and cheapest way to lose weight and is the most recommended exercise for people with obesity or overweight. Brisk walking for 30 minutes will burn 150-200 calories. And you can even divide the time into three 10 minutes periods.
15. IS A BUDGET BOOSTER
If more people were physically active for 30 minutes a day, the Australian health care system could save $1.5 billion per year, statistics show.
16. IS A LIFE SAVER
In 2007/2008, an estimated 16,178 Australians dying prematurely due to physical inactivity.
17. SAVES MONEY
Walking makes economic sense. Premiers Council for Active Living has estimated that switching 5 per cent of Sydney metro daily car trips under 1km to walking would save $134m over five years.
18. IT’S NEIGHBOURLY
Walking builds better communities. People that walk regularly interact with their neighbours more and develop greater social capital. Research into the impact of social relationships on mortality found that people had a 50 per cent better survival rate if they had stronger social relationships. The influence of strong social relationships on the risk of death exceeds the influence of smoking and alcohol consumption.
19. UNCLOGS CITIES
In dense urban areas, one of the best ways to tackle congestion is to increase levels of walking. The most space efficient way of moving people around is by walking. You can comfortably fit 30 pedestrians in the space taken by one car travelling at around 50kph.
20. IT SMELLS GOOD
Reduced vehicle emissions – an average car carrying 1.2 passengers emits 302 grams of CO2 equivalent per passenger kilometre. Average CO2 equivalent emissions per pedestrian are negligible.
21. BEST FOR GETTING ABOUT
If you really want to feel and experience a city or a region, it’s only by taking it on foot do we slow down enough to see the amazing things that are all around us. All those hidden back alleys, incredible views and interesting bits of history that come alive when we take the time and pace to discover them.
Data courtesy of The Heart Foundation.