Walking Increases Lifespan

Did You Know…that walking for 30 minutes to an hour a day can add years to your life?

What’s the 4th biggest killer of adults worldwide?  According to the World Health Organization it’s physical inactivity!

A sedentary lifestyle raises your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, hypertension, and osteoporosis.  It also leads to as much as a seven-year decline in longevity compared to your more physically active counterparts.

Here’s the good news:  it takes only 30 minutes to 1 hour of walking 5 or more days a week to protect you from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and premature death.

Walking for Longevity 

Being physically inactive puts you in the same high-risk category for premature death as smokers, excessive drinkers, and obese individuals, all of who shave 3-5 years off their lives for each health risk they engage in.  One study found that adults who watched television for 4 or more hours a day had a 46% increased risk of death from any cause and an 80% increased risk of death from heart disease.

But making the shift from inactivity to moderate activity is easy when taken step-by-step—literally!  The American Heart Association recommends just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  That’s a mere 30 minutes of walking 5 days a week.

Two studies conducted by researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rottterdam, Netherlands substantiate this recommendation.

     Scientists analyzed more than four decades of research compiled in the Framingham Heart Study (a large-scale analysis of suburban Boston residents).  They grouped 4,121 men and women according to low, medium, and high activity levels.  At age 50, moderate exercisers had a life expectancy 1.5 years higher than low activity exercisers, and high activity exercisers had a life expectancy 3.5 years longer.

A second smaller-scale study showed that walking for just 30 minutes a day 5 or more days a week at both a moderate or brisk pace improved cardiorespiratory fitness.  The same improvement was shown in individuals who walked at a brisk pace 3-4 days a week.  Those who engaged in fast-paced walking 5 or more days a week also experienced a reduction in cholesterol levels.

Walking for Health

Walking for 30 minutes to 1 hour 5 days a week—from moderate to briskly paced—imparts health benefits such as:

  • Enhanced mental wellness
  • Relief from tension, anxiety, depression, and anger
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Bone loss prevention
  • Increased energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced risk of heart disease (by as much as 30-40%)
  • Reduced risk of stroke (by as much as 20%)

If time is your excuse as to why you can’t schedule in an hour walk, then count accumulated minutes. A 10-minute walk in the morning and a 20-minute walk in the evening do the trick as well!