Walking helps you live longer

Can a brisk 20-minute walk each day help you live longer? A recent study suggests so, finding that a sedentary lifestyle contributes more to early death than obesity.

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study analyzed data collected during a 12-year timespan for 334,000 unique participants. This study aimed to better understand all-cause mortality. Height and weight, waist circumference, and activity levels were evaluated and compared.

It turns out, a sedentary lifestyle not only increases ones risk of death over obesity but doubles it. While overall body weight is a significant mortality risk, waist circumference is shown to be a primary contributor to stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer – all of which shrink life expectancy. Those who simply lose weight in areas other than their center can reduce their risk of early death but not as much as they could by simply adding light physical activity into their daily routine.

Whether overweight or of normal weight, even small efforts to increase physical activity were shown to notably reduce risk factors – especially for the most inactive. In fact, moving from sedentary to moderately inactive, such as burning between 90 and 110 extra calories per day, could reduce ones risk of death from around 30 to just 16 percent. This is equivalent to merely adding a brisk 20-minute walk into ones daily routine.

Walking helps to improve blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and mental wellness while reducing the risk of osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Walking can also contribute to weight loss and easier weight maintenance. Aerobic exercise as a whole can boost the immune system, strengthen muscles, and enhance cognitive abilities. As opposed to focusing on losing weight, it might be time to shift the conversation toward adding a brisk and brief daily walk.

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Walking protects brain volume, slows cognitive decline

International Brain Awareness Week — March 16-22

Walking helps prevent dementia

Another study reports that walking slows the decline of memory loss related to dementia and Alzheimer’s. The findings showed that “across the board greater amounts of physical activity were associated with greater brain volume.”

People with Alzheimer’s who walked 5 miles a week, about 10,000 steps, showed a slower decline in brain volume. Brain volume is vital to brain health; decreased volume mean brain cells are dying.

The study also showed that healthy adults who walked six miles a week maintained brain volume and significantly reduced cognitive decline.

The results from a 20-year study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America by Dr. Cyrus Raji Ph.D. and his team from the Department of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Walking can improve your brain’s resistance to the disease and reduce memory loss over time,” said Raji.

So when you’re out walking this week, know that 1,000 steps of your daily walk are keeping you smart!

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Should I walk if I have the flu?

It is flu season. The best prevention is a flu shot and to stay as healthy as you can like washing your hands frequently, eating foods that boost your immune system and walking. Yes, your commitment to your walking routine is helping you keep healthy. Studies show that people who walk for exercise experience half as many colds as those who don’t, and when they do get colds they last shorter.

Also, use your healthy days to build or add to your step buffer so you will have enough steps to complete your challenge or step goal. Walking an extra 10 to 15 minutes a day – about 1,000-1,500 steps a day – is a great way to “bank” some steps.

But, if you do come down with a cold or flu, do the “neck test” to see if your body is up for exercise:

  • If your symptoms are above the neck – like a runny nose or sore throat – slow to moderate exercise is okay.
  • If your symptoms are below the neck – chest congestion, hacking cough – it’s better to rest and gradually return to walking when you are feeling better.
  • If you have a fever, chills, body aches, or upset stomach – don’t exercise.

And, when you return to your walking routine, do it gradually and use the steps you “banked” to help get you back on track. Listen to your body during your walk and throughout the day. Watch for signs of fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc., and make adjustments.

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Are you Walking Right? (Infograph)

Download this Walking Infograph for placing in your home or workplace.

Then check out the tips under the infograph on how to how to measure the intensity of your walk.

Measure the intensity of your workout
As you walk, measure the intensity. Knowing your level allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it.

The Talk Test is one way to rate your intensity. You should aim for Moderate to Hard Effort.

  • Very light effort – you can carry on a conversation and talk in sentences
  • Moderate effort – you can talk, but not in full sentences
  • Hard effort – you can talk, but would rather not
  • Very, very hard effort – you cannot say a word

Keep track of your progress
Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration. Just think how good you’ll feel when you see how many miles you’ve walked each week, month or year.

Reference your walking using the Walkingspree pedometer activity tracking. Your walking history can all be found when you upload and sign in.

Cool down after each walking session
To reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then, repeat your stretches.

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A Valentine’s Day Wish

We hope you enjoy this video and will share it with your loved ones as you continue to take steps everyday to live a longer and healthier life. What better way to say “I Love You”!

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Walkingspree!

If you have trouble viewing the video below, please try our alternate video version.

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