A new study performed by researchers at Cambridge University examining meta-analysis on physical activity found that 11 minutes of brisk walking can lower the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer.
You may be thinking that you’ve heard this story before — and you can be forgiven for thinking its not believable. However, the data set was extracted from 196 studies with an accumulative population of over 30 million participants.
That’s not a small study that can be waved off as inadequate and irrelevant.
One of the most important points to come from the study was that brisk walking can prevent one in ten early deaths. It’s well known that physical exercise helps to improve cardiovascular function, but it’s quite remarkable that a minimum of 11 minutes a day can make a significant impact.
11-minutes of brisk walking is an achievable target for most people!
The evidence shows that even the smallest amount of walking each day is better than not walking at all. The longer-term benefits include reduced risk of coronary heart disease and mortality.
But why do you need to engage in brisk walking over normal walking?
What is Brisk Walking?
Brisk walking is essentially an aerobic exercise. Like any other aerobic exercise, brisk walking stimulates the heart and lungs. For your exercise to constitute a brisk walk you should be travelling at around 2.3mph-3mph — or fast enough so that you cannot speak after several minutes without panting.
The purpose of brisk walking is to give your vital organs a workout as well. This is why brisk walking is good for your health. It helps to strengthen your bones and muscles but also gets more air into your lungs.
Breathing larger quantities of oxygen helps your body and brain to function better. The lungs pass oxygen on to the heart which deposits oxygen into blood cells and pumps oxygenated blood around the body.
Research shows that oxygenated blood supports the immune system by helping to create more white blood cells to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. The brain also functions better when it receives more oxygen.
In addition, brisk walking increases your heart rate and blood flow and strengthens the heart muscles. Consequently, your cardiovascular fitness improves and reduces inflammation.
Physical exercise is also an effective way to reduce stress. A report published by the NIH confirmed that “stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.”
You can read about the 10 benefits of brisk walking in this article by clicking the link.
Starting a Brisk Walking Program
Adopting new habits — even healthy, constructive habits — can be difficult. But when you have something achievable to aspire to, compromises are easier to come by.
11-minutes a day is achievable and healthy cardiovascular function is something to aspire to — especially as you get older.
Walking is a simple, low entry-level form of exercise. Moreover, brisk walking is still easier than other forms of aerobics and studies show is healthier than running.
To get started, all you need is a pair of comfortable trainers with adequate support for your ankles and heel. In case, you are walking to work, it’s a smart option to invest in a pair of comfy shoes and change once you get to your workplace.
Don’t forget to hydrate! Bring a bottle of water if you’re taking a long walk. Some healthy snacks, are handy to have too.
It’s also important to listen to your body, particularly if you haven’t exercised for a while or have a minor disability. Whilst 11 minutes of brisk walking shouldn’t put too much strain on your body, take care to protect yourself from injury.
Start slow and pick up the pace after a few minutes to give your body the opportunity to become accustomed to exertion. If you want to know how to increase your walking speed to get the most from a brisk walking program check out this article.
Make Walking a Habit
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine. How about walking home from work or at least part-way. Get off a stop or two earlier and brisk walk the rest of the way. If the distance covered takes at least 11 minutes, you’re hitting your daily quota.
Walk whenever possible; to the shop, use the stairs instead of the lifts at work or escalators in the shopping centre. How about encouraging the kids to go on a nature walk at the weekend or recruit a friend so you have company and motivation.
Alternatively, join a walking group or start one. Walking in organised groups is shown to pick up your mood and improve your well-being. If music motivates you, make a playlist of your favourite tunes.
Download the Sweatcoin App
If you adopt brisk walking to improve your health and fitness, why not download the sweatcoin app. We’ve built this app to encourage people to walk further more often. There are no catches but you can earn money by walking.
The app includes a built-in pedometer which counts your steps and converts them into a digital currency (SWC). You can use SWC to purchase discounted merchandise from over 300 online retailers.
So if you want to save a little extra cash and have the opportunity to buy the merchandise you might not have ordinarily thought of, the Sweatcoin app opens new doors to a new and improved lifestyle.