While public health guidelines recommend adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, a University of Cambridge study of 334,000 people found that just 20 minutes of brisk walking (or the equivalent thereof) a day is enough to prolong life.
Walking has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and breast and colon cancers. While the researchers couldn’t say just how many extra years of life the exercise offered, the message was clear: “Just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive,” says study leader Ulf Ekelund, adding, “Although we found just 20 minutes would make a difference, we should really be looking to do more than this – physical activity has many proven health benefits and should be an important part of our daily life.”
It’s not just your body that benefits from walking, your brain does, too. Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University found that the foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that can significantly modify and increase the supply of blood to the brain. “Walking has been described as the ‘perfect exercise’ because it is simple, free, convenient, doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and can be done at any age,” said Dr Alpa Patel from the American Cancer Society.
So put on those walking shoes and enjoy the great outdoors.