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Take a Walk on the Mild Side

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Take a Walk on the Mild Side

Can we stroll our way to good health? (New studies say yes!)

Yesterday, I drove to the gym—in order to walk and jog on the treadmill. If this still seems reasonable, let’s consider that my gym is a 10-minute walk from my house. Driving rather than getting a head start on my workout was clearly ridiculous, as confirmed by plenty of new studies in support of walking for fitness.

Researchers talk the talk (and walk the walk)

A new UK report entitled “Walking Works” makes a case for walking more and sitting less to improve health. That’s it—no fancy workouts, just making time in our days for an amble or stroll. The report suggests that if everyone in England exercised moderately for 150 minutes every week (or about 20 minutes every day) we would notice some walk-worthy benefits:

  • 37,000 saved lives per year
  • 6,700 fewer cases of breast cancer
  • 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes

Another recent study found that walking just one hour per day lowered breast cancer risk in women, even in those who didn’t exercise beyond daily strolls. I’m happy to hear this, as I often join my mom for hour-long walks in our deer-dappled local park (even if I do—shamefully—drive to the gym on occasion).

Walk in the woods

Taking a stroll through wooded areas may confer (or conifer) the most benefits. Studies show that what the Japanese call forest bathing boosts immune function and lowers stress. Plus, fall foliage is much better company than exhaust fumes and a dirty sidewalk—right?

Do you already make like a tree and leaf the city behind for your strolls? Share your walking habits with us via the comments below, Facebook, or Twitter.

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