National Walk To Work Day: 5 Great Health Benefits Of Walking

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National Walk To Work Day: 5 Great Health Benefits Of Walking
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alt Today is the eighth annual National Walk to Work Day. If you’re reading this, you may already be at your desk. And, like 91 percent of the population, you probably arrived there by car (86 percent) or public transportation (5 percent). But it's not too late! There's still time to pound the pavement on your way back home -- or, if that isn't possible, take a walk during your lunch break. (If you happen to be in New York, the new "pedestrian corridor" in midtown might be a good place to start.)

Why should you bother? The latest research shows that walking, specifically, is associated with everything from diabetes prevention to lowering cholesterol to improving mood.

It May Help Prevent Obesity

If you're prone to being obese, spending just one hour going for a brisk walk may reduce your genetic influence by half. That's the finding from a Harvard School of Public Health Study that was recently presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions.

"In our study, a brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in BMI by half," study researcher Qibin Qi, Ph.D. said in a statement. "On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle marked by watching television four hours a day increased the genetic influence by 50 percent."

Not only is it helpful to get moving from behind your desk -- it might be harmful to stay slumped over your computer instead.

It Reduces 'Bad' Cholesterol And Increases 'Good' Cholesterol

Research consistently shows that a simple walking plan can help reduce LDL cholesterol -- the damaging kind, associated with heart disease -- and increase HDL cholesterol, which is associated with heart health.

One study in middle aged men found that walking enough to burn 300 calories per day was associated with a significant reduction in the total cholesterol/HDL ratio, which is an indication of better cardiovascular function. The walking plan was also effective in lowering damaging triglycerides.

It Lowers Body Fat

Even if you aren't genetically predisposed to obesity, you can still benefit from the weight regulating properties of walking. Walking at least 10,000 steps a day was associated with lower body fat percentage and lower overall weight, according to a recent Canadian study of women, ages 50 to 70 years.

In the study of 57 women, those who walked more than 10,000 steps were the only group to have a normal BMI of an average 25. Those who walked fewer than 7,500 steps and those who walked between 7,500 and 10,000 steps were, on average, overweight. But while walking may have an effect on overall body mas, if it's muscle tone, balance or agility you're after, the study found that even 10,000 steps wasn't sufficient.

It Reduces Fatigue

People with fatigue who also lead sedentary lifestyles reported getting a 20 percent energy boost and a 65 percent reduction in fatigue after following a low-intensity exercise program that involved walking, according to a 2008 University of Georgia study.

And more, recently, walking was shown to help mitigate the profound fatigue felt by those who were recovering from serious illness, reported HuffPost's Amanda L. Chan: The new research shows that an activity as simple as walking could help to lessen this fatigue. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons included 102 people who had just had surgery done for their pancreatic or periampullary cancers. Eighty-five percent of them reported having fatigue at a moderate to severe level.

It Improves Mood

The benefits of walking extend beyond the physical. Just 30 minutes of strolling a day has been associated with mood improvement among depressed patients. In fact, thanks to the endorphins released during exercise, the study -- published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine -- revealed that walking worked faster than antidepressants.

Source: The Huffington Post
April 6, 2012

Walk The Talk

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