Our ability to walk is something we tend to take for granted, unless we have some physical impairment. However, according to a French study, we need to pay more attention to the benefits of walking on a regular basis, especially as we age.
Why Is Walking So Important?
The 12-year study showed that the rate of mortality in adults over 65 reduced by 22% with only 15 minutes of walking daily. What’s more, the rate increased as the activity levels became longer and more frequent. The lead researcher of the study explained that we shouldn’t use age as an excuse for not exercising, because it has been proven that physical activity has a much better effect on the overall health than any other medical treatment. Unfortunately, less than half of older adults achieve the recommended 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise weekly.
This Should Not Come as a Surprise
Since it is so basic to us, walking has been studied for its effects on different aspects of the human condition. A lot of people don’t understand that walking is an aerobic activity and thus, ignore its benefits. An aerobic exercise is that which stimulates the heart and respiratory rates to pump more oxygen to the muscles. This can be achieved even with a slow stroll. And, the faster the walking, the more aerobic the activity.
When the circulatory, respiratory, and cardiovascular operations increase, the nutrients go where they must to support the exercise. And, energy is used rather than stored and the bones, muscles, and organs become stronger. This happens because our bodies were meant for movement.
The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle
With certainty, living a life which doesn’t include proper exercise increases the risk of disease. When a person does very little physical activity, the chance of a ‘sedentary death syndrome’ is much higher. This condition can lead to different chronic illnesses as well as premature death.
Walking Is Beneficial for Everyone, Not Just Elder People
According to a study from 2016, the lung capacity of obese children significantly increased after 45-minute daily walk, 5 days per week. Moreover, fast walking interspersed with a slow walk betters the fitness level more than walking at a continual pace. Also, it has been found that walking has a positive effect on our mental health. When we’re surrounded by nature, our mood improves and the level of stress and depression reduce. Sunshine supplies us with vitamin D; nowadays, the deficiency in vitamin D is becoming almost epidemic.
Nonetheless, walking indoors is almost as good as walking in nature. Namely, a study done at Stanford showed that walking on a treadmill facing a blank wall resulted in almost as many creative responses as being outdoors.
The Need for Walking
When something hurts, we avoid touching it. However, the paradox is that regular walking betters the mobility and lowers the chance of injury. Walking also makes the connective tissue and bones stronger and increases the supply of nutrients and blood. According to the Arthritis Foundation, when we don’t walk, the joints are deprived of life-giving fuel and this speeds up their deterioration.
The American Heart Association holds that walking decreases the risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and high cholesterol. They recommend a minimum of half an hour of physical activity per day or 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Moreover, 15-minute walks are as good as a half an hour walk. Begin slowly and increase your pace and endurance.
The benefits of walking don’t end here. According to the Sleep Foundation, walking lowered the time needed to fall asleep and also increased the length of sleep in people who suffer from chronic insomnia when compared to a night when they didn’t exercise.
One thing’s for sure, we cannot all work out at a gym or run up 10 flights of stairs, but most of us can walk. It’s always beneficial to take a daily stroll; just put on good pair of shoes and spare 15 minutes per day to preserve your health.