Walking doesn't get nearly as much attention as other workouts for health benefits, but that might be a huge oversight. New research has found that adding just 10 more minutes of simple physical activity to your day — such as walking — can greatly benefit your heart health.
The August 2018 research published in Journal of the American Heart Association found that adults in their early 60s who spend more time engaged in physical activity and less time sitting have healthier blood levels in terms of markers for heart disease. In the study, researchers looked at more than 1,600 British volunteers, aged 60 to 64, who wore heart-rate and movement sensors for five days. Researchers then analyzed the participants' blood levels for various markers of cardiovascular disease, such as leptin and t-PA.
The results were striking: Each additional 10 minutes spent undertaking a moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity — including brisk walking, bicycling, and dancing — was linked with leptin levels that were 6.6 percent lower in women and 3.7 percent lower in men. Even light-intensity activity — including slow walking, stretching, and gardening — boasted a major benefit: It was linked with around 0.8 percent lower t-PA levels in both men and women.
Although this is definitely exciting news for enthusiastic walkers, it's not the first time walking has been linked to great health benefits.
The Best Health Benefits of Walking
If you already set aside time every day to walk a little bit, you'll be happy to know that a 2017 study suggests walking fewer than two hours per week may significantly reduce your mortality risk. In other words, walking for that super-short period of time may actually help prolong your entire life. Even more impressive? You can actually get some health benefits from walking almost instantly after you do it, especially if you do so right after eating.
For instance, researchers have found that a 15-minute walk after dinner can help aid with digestion and improve blood sugar levels. Furthermore, one Diabetes Care study found that overweight and sedentary older adults benefitted greatly from a post-meal 15-minute walk and saw their blood sugar levels improve. We all know and love the feeling of lounging on the couch after a big meal, but this research just might be enough motivation to get moving instead.
How much should you really be walking for health benefits?
It goes without saying that even just a little walking is better than none. But in order to see optimal benefits, you might need to add a bit more to your weekly routine. According to the Washington Post, some experts recommend 30 minutes every day during the week. “Thirty minutes a day is where we see great health benefits,” said Rick Richey, master instructor with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He said these benefits include higher muscle-to-fat ratio and decreased risk for high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
At the end of the day, putting a little extra pep in your step could also help you catch some more zzz's — and who could say no to that? A 2011 study by researchers from Oregon State University found that people who exercised at least 150 minutes a week (which could equate to 30 minutes for five days a week) slept better and felt more alert as a result.
We don't know about you, but we sure feel like going for a stroll right about now!
Next, check out the tastiest superfoods that can help you live longer in the video below: