Want to live longer? Walk. Research has shown that you can add up to seven years to your life by exercising daily, regardless of what you weigh. Even better, those extra years will be good ones as folks who walk are happier. A separate study found that people who exercise report feeling happier, more excited, and more enthusiastic about their future than their couch-potato brothers. Find out how often you should get up and walk if you want to live longer.
At this point, you have to suspend your disbelief and try it. The concentration it requires beggars belief. Hall says at one point, “it’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy – it takes a lot of brain power”. I didn’t believe her for one second, but of course it was true. Even chatting at the same time as having an active foot was a challenge. Having an active foot and a hip lift was like trying to do a sudoku while listening to Motörhead.
Another American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average nine pounds less) than couch potatoes as they got older. Last year, researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).
Whatever makes you feel comfortable is the easy answer. There is no need for fancy spandex or workout clothes, unless that’s what you like. As you start moving farther and faster, you may want to get dedicated fitness walking clothes that wick away sweat or allow you to layer for different weather conditions, but for a beginning fitness walker, comfort trumps everything else.
It’s official: Walking is as good for your brain as it is for your body. A comprehensive study of the effects of exercise on the brain found that it benefits all aspects of your mind, including memory, cognition, learning, reading and it even increases the size of your brain to boot. Even better, walking protects your brain by lessening your risk of getting cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Find out why walking at work is even better than a standing desk.
Mental health got me walking in the first instance. I was in my late twenties, and beginning to understand that the love of my life (London) was also my chief tormentor. The stress of the city and the stress of my job as a journalist, got the better of me and I became claustrophobic, which meant I could no longer stand to travel around London’s endless sprawl by Underground. (I’ve since discovered this is incredibly common in Londoners, and God, how transparent we all are! The thing that ferries us to work, aka ground zero on much of our stress; the thing that speeds relentlessly round our city - its logistical arteries - is also the thing we’re likely to fall apart on, and ultimately: resist and refuse.) So I ditched the tube for the bus.
Observe basic safety while walking outside. Watch for traffic all around you. Always walk on sidewalks or on the left side of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Carry an ID and a cell phone or change for a pay phone. Use caution if wearing headphones (perhaps use just one earpiece so you can hear traffic and other noises around you). Make yourself visible in low-light situations by wearing reflective gear, such as vests with reflective tape are especially visible.
It should be noted that the MET approach was designed to build a classification system of different activities for research purposes - MET values "do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium." (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities)
As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can't set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefit.
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An analysis of studies on walking showed it improves aerobic fitness - which is technically the ability of the heart to get oxygen to our muscles and how effectively our muscles use that oxygen. But to be effective, walking needs to be of at least moderate intensity, which means an intensity where you’re able to notice your breathing but can carry on a conversation without noticeable pauses between words. For many, this is a brisk walk.
Not so much. In fact, running more than doubles the amount of energy you expend versus walking, according to research published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. A 140-pound person burns 13.2 calories per minute running, according to the American Council of Exercise. That same person would burn 7.6 calories per minute walking. I’ll do the math for you: For a 30-minute run, that works out to 396 calories burned running compared to 228 calories burned while walking for 30 minutes.

Just get up and walk! You don’t really even need to change your clothes or shoes (unless you’re wearing heels, of course). Note: If you’re looking to go for a power walk, then changing clothes and putting on proper shoes is probably a good idea. Go for a walk periodically throughout your day or head out for a walking meeting at work instead of sitting in a meeting room. And, for those of you who don’t have time to make it to the gym in the morning, you can just head out the door first thing in the morning and walk it out.
I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day, which makes it easier to push yourself a little farther to reach your 10,000-step goal.

Use the 1-to-10 scale of perceived rate of exertion to measure endurance. Think of 1 as watching TV; 10 is gasping for air (you can't go any further). Daily walks, for example, are 5 or even 6-6.5 sometimes. Twice a week, crank it up to 7, 8, or 9 on a steep hill for a few minutes. Now you're burning serious calories and building real aerobic fitness through interval training.
Improper digestion can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and even colon cancer. Therefore, it is very important that you keep your digestive system healthy. Apart from maintaining good food habits and drinking water, you should also walk to improve digestion. Walking after meals is great. It helps you reduce weight and also supports your digestive system (11) (12).
Nina Barough is well known to power walkers in the UK. She founded the Walk the Walk Charity in 1999, and organises events, including The Moonwalk, a unique power walking marathon. The annual walk, which starts and ends in Battersea Park, London, attracted 15,000 walkers in 2003 and is in the process branching out worldwide. Nina lives in Finchampstead, Berkshire.
7. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 1996. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/summary.htm
Getting a solid eight hours snoozing in the sack is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Thankfully a brisk walk is basically Ambien, minus the pill (and the scary sleep-walking stories). In a large meta-analysis of sleep studies, researchers found that regular walkers had longer and better quality sleep. And for those unlucky few who still had insomnia? Walking helped reduce the number of sleepless nights they experienced. Find out which side of the road is safest for walking and why.
Use the 1-to-10 scale of perceived rate of exertion to measure endurance. Think of 1 as watching TV; 10 is gasping for air (you can't go any further). Daily walks, for example, are 5 or even 6-6.5 sometimes. Twice a week, crank it up to 7, 8, or 9 on a steep hill for a few minutes. Now you're burning serious calories and building real aerobic fitness through interval training.
The elliptical machine may seem intimidating at first, but it’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. After warming up, keep your posture upright while you use your legs in a pedal motion to move the machine. Look forward the entire time, not down at your feet. Keep your shoulders back and abdominal muscles engaged. Cool down and exit the machine to stretch.
Structurally diverse aromatic chemicals are degraded via the common products such as catechol, protocatechuate, gentisate, hydroquinone (benzene-1,4-diol), homoprotocatechuate, dihydroxyphenyl propionates, and homogentisate (Vaillancourt et al., 2006). The ring cleavage of catechol is performed by two distinct enzymes: intradiol oxygenases (utilize nonheme Fe(III) to cleave the aromatic nucleus ortho to (between) the hydroxyl substituents) and extradiol oxygenases (extradiol dioxygenases utilize non-heme Fe(II) to cleave the aromatic nucleus meta (adjacent) to the hydroxyl substituents) (Harayama and Rekik, 1989).
The third thing I noticed, was how walking reaffirmed my love for where I loved. When you wander daily around your locale, you start to look at it properly; when you do that, you notice how devastatingly beautiful it is. How weird, how sweet, how contrary, how chic. I saw hidden architectural loveliness and hilarious graffiti; outrageously stylish tiling on the exterior of ancient pubs, unutterably picturesque, Dickensian cut-throughs and alleyways. I saw more of the sky, more often, than I’d ever seen before.
Walking also fixes: hangovers, heartbreak, low grade colds; boredom, loneliness, that nagging sensation that you haven’t really achieved anything much today. It has a smattering of downsides. You will get rained on (but not as often as you think, and that’s nothing a sturdy brolly can’t help with). You’ll need to carry posh shoes in a separate bag, and cyclists can be a nightmare, far more troublesome, in my experience, than cars: wayward, melodramatic and happy to mount pavements/ speed the wrong way down one-way streets.
Regular cardio (at any speed) is part of a healthy lifestyle. But, lap for lap, running burns about 2.5 times more calories than walking. Running may also help control appetite, so runners may lose more weight than walkers no matter how far the walkers go. Still, running isn't for everyone, and going full-speed might increase injury risk. Adding weights or an incline can help pick up the intensity while maintaining a slower pace.
“While I would love to say that walking can be just as effective of a workout as running, I’m not going to lie to you. In fairness, the two really shouldn’t be compared against each other,” says John Ford, certified exercise physiologist, who runs JKF Fitness & Health in New York City. “Running, due to larger muscle recruitment, greater forces exerted and faster motion capability, will always have the proverbial leg up on walking."
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