My 2nd favorite form of exercise! JT
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 8:06 AM
It’s easy to underestimate how much walking can do for your health and overall outlook on life. Just 20 to 25 minutes of walking per week can extend your life by several years. On the flipside, not being active for a week has about the same harmful health effects as smoking a pack of cigarettes.
Bob Sallis, MD, a family physician and sports medicine expert at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, routinely prescribes walking for his patients. And, he is an advisor to an online educational campaign to get America moving: Every Body Walk! ( http://www.everybodywalk.org)
Sallis points out that regular walking does more for your health than losing 20 pounds by diet alone and being inactive. (This doesn’t make walking a substitute for controlling portions and eating healthy foods).
How to Benefit
The big benefits come from walking for 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day, five days per week. And these, says Sallis, are some of the ways such a regimen can save your life:
1. Halves the risk of heart disease by strengthening the heart muscle, reducing stress, improving the health of blood vessels, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. As an example, a single 30-minute walk can reduce blood pressure by five points for over 20 hours.
2. Reduces depression and anxiety by increasing production of endorphins — natural feel-good chemicals — and regenerating neurons (brain cells).
3. Lowers the odds of memory loss and dementia.
4. Reduces the risk of developing and dying from some cancers. Prostate cancer patients who walk 90 minutes per week are almost half as likely to die. Women who walk regularly are 31 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than those who exercise less than one hour per week. And, for women recovering from breast cancer, regular walking reduces the risk of recurrence and death by about 50 percent.