Ev­ery walk is pow­er­ful medicine

Sim­ply putting one foot in front of the other can do won­ders for your health.

Prevention (Australia) - - Fast Fitness -

BRAIN

En­gag­ing in mod­er­ate phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity – like a brisk walk – for 68 min­utes or more a day may im­prove neu­ron health, ac­cord­ing to a study in the Jour­nal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Fur­ther, if you’re feel­ing stuck at work or you’ve been search­ing for a so­lu­tion to a tricky prob­lem, go­ing for a walk can spark creativ­ity. In a study in the Jour­nal of Ex­per­i­men­tal Psy­chol­ogy, Learn­ing and Mem­ory, re­searchers ad­min­is­tered cre­ative think­ing tests to sub­jects while seated and while walk­ing and found that walk­ers thought more cre­atively than the sit­ters.

IMMUNE SYS­TEM

Peo­ple who walk briskly for 20 min­utes a day five days a week have 43 per cent fewer sick days than those who ex­er­cise once a week or less, says re­search in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Sports Medicine.

BONES

Women who walk four hours a week have a

41 per cent lower risk of hip frac­ture than those who walk less than one hour a week, the land­mark Nurses’ Health Study found.

BREASTS

If you walk an hour each day, your risk of devel­op­ing breast cancer after menopause is 14 per cent lower than if you log three hours or fewer per week, an Amer­i­can Cancer So­ci­ety study re­vealed.

MOOD

You know how some­times it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark choco­late to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, go­ing for a walk is a zero kilo­joule strat­egy with the same ben­e­fits. “Re­search shows that reg­u­lar walk­ing ac­tu­ally mod­i­fies your ner­vous sys­tem so much that you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence a de­crease in anger and hos­til­ity,” says Dr Melinda Jam­po­lis, an ex­pert on health and nu­tri­tion. Mean­while, a new study in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try sug­gests that 12 per cent of de­pres­sion cases could be pre­vented if we all walked (or did an­other form of ex­er­cise) for at least an hour each week.

JOINTS

Walk­ing is like lu­bri­ca­tion for our joints, ex­plains ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist Brad Car­di­nal. “Each step moves syn­ovial fluid into and out of our joints and helps cir­cu­late nu­tri­ents to our car­ti­lage, which im­proves func­tion.”

LIFE SPAN

Chronic dis­eases can im­pact the qual­ity of your life and longevity, and there’s im­pres­sive ev­i­dence to show that reg­u­lar walk­ing sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces your risk: it low­ered blood pres­sure by as much as 11 per cent in a US study, and may re­duce risk of stroke by 20 per cent to 40 per cent. Walk­ing for 30 min­utes a day, five days a week, also low­ers your risk of heart dis­eases by as much as 30 per cent ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine. Walk­ing also low­ers your blood sugar lev­els and your over­all risk of di­a­betes.

LEGS

By adding mus­cle tone to your legs, walk­ing is a great beauty aid – con­tribut­ing to shapely an­kles and calves. And it can also pre­vent vari­cose veins, says Dr Luis Navarro, di­rec­tor of the Vein Treat­ment Cen­tre in New York.

BOW­ELS

You’ll start to get more reg­u­lar. Walk­ing uses our core and ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles, en­cour­ag­ing move­ment in our lower in­testi­nal tract. And so if you’re prone to con­sti­pa­tion, once you start walk­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis you’ll soon be able to stop us­ing lax­a­tives.

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