Is Walking Enough Exercise to Improve Your Health?

The answer is yes, research has shown that even 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is linked to a 22% reduced risk of dying. Data from two groups of individuals was analyzed by researchers, one group of individuals aged 65 that was followed for twelve years, and another group of 122,417 individuals aged 60 that was followed for ten years.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094306

Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) was used for measuring physical activity. MET refers to how much energy measured in calories is expended per minute of physical activity, 1 MET is equivalent to how much energy is expended from just sitting. The amount of MET minutes a person accumulates up every week is dependent on physical activity intensity. Moderate intensity activities range between 3 and 5.9 MET minutes while activities of vigorous-intensity are categorized as 6 or more MET minutes. The recommended guidelines for exercise levels are from 500 to 1000 MET minutes per week.

The researchers examined the related risk of death for 4 weekly physical activity categories in MET minutes, defined as inactive, low (1-499 MET minutes), medium (500-999 MET minutes), or high (over 1000 MET minutes).

There were a total of 18,210 deaths during the follow form both of the groups. The risk of death reduced as the exercise level increased. In comparison to individuals who were inactive, those with low activity levels had a 22% risk of death, medium activity levels had a 28% risk of death and high activity levels had a 35% reduced risk of death.

The biggest increase in benefit was seen at a low exercise level, with a 22% reduction in risk of death in this activity level, which is equivalent to a daily 15-minute walk, in comparison to inactive individuals.

Walking regularly is also associated with a 43% reduction in risk of stroke and heart attack risk factors. Researchers have shown that women who walk at least three hours every week have less of a risk of suffering a stroke in comparison to those who walk less or not at all.2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.670612

A total of almost 33,000 women and men responded to a physical activity questionnaire. The participants were divided by gender, type of exercise, and the total amount of time they exercised every week.

A total of 442 strokes were experienced by the participants during the follow-up period of 12 years. Women who were regular walkers had a 43% reduction in risk of stroke in comparison to those who were inactive.

The take away is that walking will improve your health, but improving cardiovascular fitness will require more vigorous exercise by increasing heart rate.

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