Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia can be as easy as taking a walk. But is it really enough to put one foot in front of the other? A new study tells us how how we walk could be far more important than how much we walk.
From a recent study it emerged that, to get the best results, it is not enough to walk a lot, but how we walk.
The benefits of walking are many: they help keep the knees healthy, lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and lower the risk of dementia. Until recently, however, the conception was that it was enough to take 10,000 steps a day to get maximum results. In fact, this figure yields the greatest benefit in reducing the risk of dementia.
Since then, scientific research has striven to more rigorously establish the benefits and benefits of walking. Apparently, according to a recent development published in the trade journal JAMA, the speed of walking is far more important than the number of steps we take.
Take, for example, one of the healthiest benefits of walking: reducing the risk of dementia, especially in old age. Walking the fateful 10,000 steps a day will lower your risk of dementia by 50%. This is without taking speed into account. However, if you walk with an average of 112 steps per minute for half an hour a day, you will reduce the risks by up to 62%. Read also:
The best news? There will be no need to do this half hour of intense walking all together: you can break it up into the day and adapt it to daily rhythms. Indeed, with a little planning, you could integrate half an hour of walking into your daily tasks to have the double benefit of using the machine less and taking care of your body at 360 degrees.
Does walking faster really help with health?
Apparently, the answer is a giant yes. The study published in the scientific journal JAMA followed a group of 78,500 people from England, Scotland and Wales for seven days. All test participants wore a tracker for the entire 24 hours and went through their daily routines without changes.
After taking measurements, the reference cohort was divided into those taking more than 40 steps per minute and those taking less than 40 steps per minute. A third category was added to include who in the target group took the most steps compared to the rest of the sample each day.
These data were compared with the medical records of the same patients seven years later. People who walked more than 80 steps per minute showed lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and premature death.
The benefits, according to Borja del Porto Cruz, a research associate at the University of Southern Denmark, are distributed as follows:
- An 80% reduction in cardiovascular problems
- A 62% reduction in the risk of dementia
- A 20% reduction in cancer risk
The reason, at least apparently, is that more sustained walking activates many different functions simultaneously in our body, promoting muscle development, heart health and neuronal stimulation.
How do I know if I am walking fast enough to benefit?
In reality, you will be able to perform an extremely simple test. Start walking at a brisk pace, trying to reach at least 80 steps per minute. When you are at a satisfying pace that you can sustain, try speaking out loud. If you can’t, it means that you are in an anaerobic phase of the body, that is, in oxygen debt.
The anaerobic phase is activated because the body is facing a higher effort than normal and has to compensate for the increased use of oxygen. In other words, if you cannot talk and walk together, it means that you are pushing yourself beyond your physical limits, and therefore you are still getting a direct benefit from this physical activity.
Even if you cannot walk outdoors every day, remember to move a lot at home too, as it has been found that even this discontinuous and not very intense movement still has benefits. And then, you could take the opportunity to do some housework, which hides incredible benefits for your mental health.
Now that you know the benefits of brisk walking throughout the day, you can integrate half an hour of free time to do it every day. You will also have extra motivation to carve out some time for yourself and slow down with the relentless pace of work or commitments. There is everything to gain!
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