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Tag: Walking

Why walking helps us think

Ferris Jabr, The New Yorker:

When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

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Walking might be the best exercise

One of the keys to a longer and healthier life is to keep moving. The simple act of walking is as natural as breathing and could increase not only how long you live, but also your quality of life.

It’s easy to get excited about the latest and greatest trends, from high-intensity interval training to ultramarathons to triathlons to powerlifting. But at the end of the day, regular brisk walking gets you most, if not all of the way there—“there” meaning a long and healthy life. This is the main conclusion from the June volume of the prestigious British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), a special edition dedicated exclusively to walking.

“Whether it is a stroll on a sunny day, walking to and from work, or walking down to the local shops, the act of putting one foot in front of the other in a rhythmic manner is as much human nature as breathing, thinking and loving,” write researchers Emmanuel Stamatakis, Mark Hamer, and Marie Murphy in an editorial in the journal.

The main study in the BJSM special edition surveyed more than 50,000 walkers in the United Kingdom—a variety of ages, both men and women—and found that regularly walking at an average, brisk, or fast pace was associated with a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality and a 24 percent reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. All the data was self-reported. Participants were asked how frequently they walked and whether they would describe their usual pace as “slow,” “average,” “fairly brisk,” or “fast.” Though self-reported data like this is often viewed as a weakness, in this case it may actually be a strength. This is because “slow” versus “brisk” for a 30-year-old is different than “slow” versus “brisk” for a 70-year-old. In other words, what the researchers were really measuring was rate of perceived exertion, or how hard people felt they were walking. This method is proven to be an effective way to gauge effort and intensity during exercise. “A very simple way to grasp what a ‘brisk’ pace is in terms of exertion is to imagine it as a pace that gets you out of breath when it is sustained for more than a few minutes,” says Stamatakis, lead author on the study and professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Another study, published earlier this year in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, examined nearly 140,000 men and women in the United States and came to the same conclusion. Engaging in at least 150 minutes per week of brisk walking was linked to a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.

Read more at Outside Magazine

About those 2-minute walk breaks you take during the day… Keep doing them. The benefits add up.

Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times:

Walk for two minutes. Repeat 15 times. Or walk for 10 minutes, thrice. The benefits for longevity appear to be almost exactly the same, according to an inspiring new study of physical activity patterns and life spans.

It finds that exercise does not have to be prolonged in order to be beneficial. It just has to be frequent.

Most of us who are interested in health know that federal exercise guidelines recommend we work out moderately for at least 30 minutes per day at least five times per week in order to reduce our risks of developing many diseases or dying prematurely.

Thinking of taking a walk everyday? Why it’s good for you

Janet Viljoen, The Conversation:

There is no doubt that movement is essential for well being. The general guidelines are that 30 minutes or more of walking every day at a speed of between five and eight kilometres per hour can improve health.

And studies show that even when people don’t quite manage to walk for the recommended 30 minutes a day the benefits can still accrue. This proves that some walking is better than none at all.

For those who still need convincing, here are six reasons to take up a daily outdoor walk.

  • It doesn’t cost a thing
  • It prevents (or delays) Type 2 diabetes
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • It decreases body fat
  • Reduces symptoms of depression
  • No adverse side effects

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