What are the health benefits of walking?

Is walking underrated?



Fitness Enthusiast
@AVogelUK
Ask Louise


21 October 2019

What are the health benefits of walking?

Staying active by walking regularly is undoubtedly very good for us. It can, for example:

  • Prevent premature aging
  • Reduce body weight
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems
  • Reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Read on to find out more about these benefits, as well as a few of my top tips for doing regular walking.

Walking can… prevent premature aging

New research has found that walking can prevent premature aging, though the key is to walk at a fast pace.1 This gets the muscles working and increases blood flow around the body.

The study found that people who walked slowly at the age of 45 were more at risk of premature aging, both physically and mentally.

Scans showed that the brains of people aged 45, who walked at a slow pace, appeared to be older than their biological age. Immune health, teeth, gums and cardiorespiratory fitness all fared much worse when people walked slowly.

Walking can… help to reduce body weight

Like any moderate intensity exercise, walking can help to reduce body weight when done regularly. Research shows that doing around 30 minutes of walking most days of the week can bring this benefit.2

This is great news as walking is something that can be done regardless of existing fitness levels. It is also completely free! You don't have to join a club, pay a membership fee or make any long-term commitments. Simply head out with friends, colleagues or family and start to improve your step count!


My Top Tip:


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Walking can… reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems

Increasing activity levels with some fast-paced walking, in middle age and beyond, may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

This is the conclusion made by researchers from Cambridge University, whose study into physical activity and mortality was recently published in the British Medical Journal.3

The interesting thing about this study is that participants benefited from increased physical activity, regardless of their previous activity levels or history of CVD.

As well as reducing the risk of CVD, increased physical activity in middle-aged participants was found to help reduce body weight and improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

To help maintain these benefits, researchers concluded that people should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, as this could prevent almost half of deaths linked to physical inactivity.

Walking can… reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure

There is evidence to suggest that walking can bring down the risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure in the same way that a more intense activity like running can.4

The important thing to note, however, is that it takes a little longer to reap these benefits through walking than it does through running. So, if you spend 30 minutes running at a time, you may have to spend around 45 minutes walking to see the same improvements.

Still, this is good news for anyone who may be unable to do intense physical activity, but is able to do regular walks.

Walking tips

  • Get comfortable trainers and clothing
  • Don't forget a waterproof
  • Take some water for longer walks
  • Walk with friends or family
  • Keep up a fast pace
  • Gradually increase the distance you walk
  • Walk instead of using other travel methods like driving
  • Listen to music or a podcast to make the walk more exciting

References

1 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2752818?resultClick=3 
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12439651 
3 https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l2323 

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23559628 

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