We all know that exercise plays a vital role in our continued well-being, but you might be surprised to find out that just taking a walk every day can save your life.
For years, studies have been demonstrating the importance of daily exercise. Both the United States and British governments advise their citizens to partake in 150 minutes — or two and half hours — of physical activity a week.
While the general consensus has been that this is specifically to avoid health problems related to obesity, a recent University of Cambridge study has shown that inactivity — not obesity — is what’s really killing people, according to the Daily Mail.
Benefits of Walking
In their study, the University of Cambridge tracked the height, weight, exercise level, and waist circumference of 334,161 Europeans over the course of 12 years. During this study, 21,438 participants died. Often, what the survivors had in common wasn’t biological, as age, gender, and previous medical conditions all varied.
Nor was it lifestyle choices we commonly assume to increase life expectancy, such as not smoking, low alcohol consumption, and higher education level. Instead, it was that they engaged in activities that burned 90 to 110 calories a day.
The most surprising fact? You can burn that number of calories in a brisk, 20-minute walk. Study participants that managed to walk that much every day were 16% to 30% less likely to die prematurely than those with a more sedentary lifestyle.
While you can burn 100 calories a day through any number of physical activities, walking offers a quick and convenient way to stay in shape and live a happier, more active lifestyle. It’s free, accessible, and comes with many of the same benefits of signing up for yet fitness class.
“Walking is a refreshing alternative to complicated aerobic routines and overpriced gym memberships,” says personal trainer Lucy Knight in a conversation with Active.com. “It’s free, enjoyable, and already a part of everyday life.”
Walking is also easier on your joints than other exercises. The Arthritis Foundation cites walking as a good source of joint health, while high-impact workouts — like running on pavement — can actually damage or even destroy them. Knight adds that daily walking can also lighten your mood and help strengthen your bones.
Walking Is Good But…
While it’s easy to take the basic steps — literally — to improve your health, it’s still impossible to predict every health issue that might pop up in the future. Life throws you curveballs, and even the healthiest and fittest among us have to make periodic visits to the doctor.
And when you do, expensive health insurance premiums and copays shouldn’t prevent you from receiving the treatments you need. SingleCare helps you book an appointment for a discounted one-time, flat-rate fee, regardless of whether you have insurance or not.
So instead of worrying about how you’ll cope with piling medical bills, SingleCare makes sure you can concentrate on feeling better.
(Main image credit: Giorgio Minguzzi/flickr)