Walk to Work Day 2018: Five ways walking can boost health

Walking to work — or anywhere — has health as well as environmental benefits. — AFP pic
Walking to work — or anywhere — has health as well as environmental benefits. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, April 6 — Today marks Walk to Work Day 2018, which aims to encourage all of us to leave the car at home for the day and instead take a walk to the office. Although it can be difficult to find time to walk to work, and for some who travel long distances it can be impossible, walking more any day of the year can bring a variety of health benefits. Whether you walk to work, the supermarket, or to visit friends, here are five benefits you can enjoy from adding more steps into your daily life.

Maintain a healthy weight

For those who are thinking about leaving the car at home for Walk to Work Day, it could be worth bearing in mind the results of a 2016 study which found that the individuals who drove for an hour or more a day had a 0.8 higher BMI number, were up to 2.3kg heavier, and were 1.5cm wider around the waist than those who spent 15 minutes or less a day in their cars. The researchers behind the study advise that some physical activity is better than doing none at all, and suggest adding simple activities into daily life, such as walking, in an effort to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity.

Boost happiness

A 2017 UK study found that even a minimal level of physical activity — such as walking — can have a positive effect on a person’s happiness. The large-scale study looked at more than 10,000 individuals to find that even just walking around, which the researchers said couldn’t be classed as exercise, was enough activity to cause a boost in emotional wellbeing.

Reduce risk of death

A study published just last month found that short bursts of exercise, such as walking more or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, could all count towards achieving the recommended amount of physical activity each week, as long as it is performed at a moderate-vigorous level of intensity. With a moderate level of intensity defined in the study as brisk walking at a pace that makes it hard to carry a conversation, walking throughout the day could help individuals achieve the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, and help to reduce the risk of death.

Lower risk of gestational diabetes

A US study published earlier this month found that keeping fit before becoming pregnant could lower a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes. The researchers advise that women interested in improving their fitness before becoming pregnant should aim to meet the current activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week (30 minutes per day, five days per week), with brisk walking a good example of a moderate physical activity.

Better sleep

American research which looked at data on the sleep habits and physical activities of 429,110 adults found that walking was one of the activities which could help improve sleep, and help adults get a sufficient amount of shut-eye each evening. By improving sleep individuals can also help improve a variety of other health conditions, including a reduced risk of obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. — AFP-Relaxnews

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