When I was younger, preparation for bikini/wedding/holidays or frankly any season, inevitably meant a new workout regimen. Endless hours were spent scouring magazines for the hottest new fitness fad, hoping it would get me beach-ready. Unfortunately, because of this silly commitment, I became the proud owner of Jane Fonda videos, the Thigh Master, the Bowflex and the Shake Weight. Bring on summer of 2014, then 2015 and now 2016 where my focus is flipped from looking pretty to being well. And now my clothes fit without all the gizmos. How have I done it? Give a round of applause for a plant-based diet, a little yoga and a lot of walking.
Walking, yes, insert a laugh here. If I had read this post 10 years ago, I would have rolled my eyes because I never considered walking a health benefit. Images of senior citizens walking malls with high socks and fanny packs come to mind when discussing “walking for exercise.” Funny thing is, they were on to something.
When it comes to disease prevention, one of my super doctors, who’s both a nutritionist and oncologist, recommends focusing more on exercise than any single nutrient. Both the Nurses Health Study (NHS) and the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL) show increased breast cancer survival rates with a moderate exercise regimen such as walking. For those colon and prostate cancer survivors, studies cited in “The Journal of Clinical Oncology” (2006) and “The Harvard School of Public Health News” (2011) have shown decrease in mortality rates with physical activity, as well. The media is catching on, too. When I first started researching wellness three years ago everywhere my finger scrolled, I found another Tweet or short form essay on the benefits of walking and physical activity.
So, how much is the right prescription? Please ask your doctor, as each individual’s needs are slightly different. What I’ve learned through my research and medical appointments is that the average recommendation is to walk 45-minutes to an hour at a moderate-to-brisk pace, five times per week. Whether it’s disease prevention or just looking great, I’ve noticed my legs are tighter following this suggestion.
While these studies showcase the benefits for cancer survivors, increasing physical activity can benefit all who are concerned about optimal wellness. I’m thrilled that merely walking can promote great health and looking svelte, too. Just strap on a pair of comfy shoes and be creative with how to fit it into a daily schedule.
Walking and Physical Activity Research and Media:
1. Forbes: American Cancer Society claims walking an hour a day might reduce risk of developing breast cancer.
2. YouTube: Heart Health Minute: Dr. Chauncey Crandall discusses the importance of walking an hour a day to improve heart health and includes tips to start moving more.
3. ABC News: Studies link increase in children’s physical activity to better academic performance.
4. WebMD: Lose weight and get fit by walking. Creative ideas to make walking for exercise fun.
5. New York Times: Why a Brisk Walk is Better: The post explains a study highlighting brisk walking for increased health benefits.
6. Get Up and Do Something.org: A website with resources for personal and family optimal health.
7. Sitting is the New Smoking: New York Times: Sitting Increases the Risks of Dying Early
We love to hear your thoughts. Any suggestions to keep from sitting throughout the entire day?
Some Tools to Make Walking a Little Easier
This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a commission with no costs to you. I pro-actively try various products and then affiliate myself with these items that I already use and love.