Spend around an hour a day – or a little under 3 miles a day – walking and not only will you walk 1000 miles in 12 months, you’ll be performing most incredible service and tune-up for your body and mind. It’s astonishing, it’s easy and it’s free. This is your body on #walk1000miles
1 – Head
Boosts memory, creativity, self-esteem and sociability, and reduces your risk of stroke by a third.
Walking boosts circulation, triggers endorphins, decreases stress hormones and increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. No wonder a meta-study of research into walking and depression concluded “Walking has a statistically significant, large effect on the symptoms of depression’’ – at least as effective as medication.
2 – Heart
Cuts your risk of heart attack in your fifties and sixties by half.
Walking is more than twice as effective as running at fighting off heart disease, and an hour a day cuts your risk of heart attack in your fifties and sixties in half; a 30-minute walk a day cuts the risk of stroke by a third.
3 – Bones
Boosts bone density – reducing the chance of hip fracture by 40%.
All exercise is good for the spine, but unlike aerobics or gym work, studies have found walking boosts bone density in spine and pelvis – reducing the chances of hip fracture by 40%.
4 – Muscles & aging
Prevents muscle wastage, triggers cells’ anti-ageing processes and even repairs DNA.
Walking prevents muscle wastage (something the over 60s can never get back), triggers cells’ anti-aging processes and even helps repair DNA. It also wards against brain shrinkage and increases memory, creativity, reasoning and sociability.
5 – Joints
Supercharges your joints with your body’s own anti-inflammatory lubrication.
Frictionless movement is thanks to ‘synovial fluid’ in your joints – and research has shown regular walking increases levels of the magic oil and causes your body to supercharge it with its own anti-inflammatory compounds.
6 – Lungs
Reverses decades of aerobic capacity decline.
An hour’s walk a day can reverse thirty years gradual aerobic capacity decline, according to a US study which saw 50 year old subjects regain the lungs of their 20 year old selves.
7 – Weight
Cuts your risk of obesity in half and Type 2 diabetes by 60%.
Insulin allows your body to absorb the energy in food – but it also encourages the long-term storage of fat. Walking causes insulin levels to drop, yet at the same time increasing your muscles’ sensitivity to what insulin there is. That means you burn energy more efficiently and fat more readily – cutting your risk of obesity in half and developing Type 2 diabetes by 60% on the way.
8 – Risk of cancer
Could prevent 10,000 cases of breast and bowel cancer a year in the UK.
Until we find a cure, walking looks like our best weapon against cancer, with 10,000 cases a year of breast- and bowel cancer being preventable in Britain alone by an hour on foot a day, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. For those already with one of the commonest forms, Macmillan says it can cut the risk of death 40%-50%.
Built to walk
Did you know the human body is built to walk? The fact we put our heels down first when we step is an evolutionary advantage that conserves 53% more energy per stride than running, scientists at the University of Utah found: “We consume more energy to run than the typical mammal our size. But we are exceptionally economical walkers.”
Finished your walk?
Your body’s elevated calorie-burning continues for an hour even after you stop.
Sources: University of Sydney; American Cancer Society; American College of Rheumatology; University of Edinburgh; Journal of Integrative Medicine; The Stroke Association, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, University of Texas, World Cancer Research Fund, University of Utah.