A Daily 20-Minute Walk Can Lead To Better Health; Here's Why

by Sumdima Rai

A brisk walk of just 20 minutes can add years to your life. A Cambridge University study of 334,000 people found that even a modest amount of some kind of activity prolonged life. Ulf Ekelund, who led the study said,“This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive. Although we found just 20 minutes would make a difference, we should be able to do more than this—physical activity has many proven health benefits and should be an important part of our daily life.”

June Davison, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Foundation, said,“The results of this study are a clear reminder that being regularly physically active can reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease.”

A separate study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a 20-minute walk could burn between 90 and 110 calories, thus helping overcome problems of obesity and heart disease that often cause premature death.

Another study presented at the European Society of Cardiology discovered that 20-25 minutes of daily walking triggers an anti-aging process and even helps repair old DNA, the result being that it could add up to seven years to your life. Study author Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, told The Independent: “ We may never avoid being completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our 90s. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”

Part of what makes walking so beneficial is that when you are walking, you cannot be sitting, since sitting for more than eight hours is associated with a 90 percent risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A 2011 study found that excessive sitting could have led to 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer.[1]

Additional health benefits of walking include:

  • Enhanced mental well-being, as walking releases natural pain-killing endorphins.
  • Reduces risks of osteoporosis, as walking builds bone mass.
  • Improved blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity.
  • Limits sickness, by reducing the odds of catching a cold.

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