10 years of research published in JAMA Network Open shows that over 20’s who walk 8,000 or more steps one or two days a week, were 14.9 per cent less likely to die young compared to sedentary people.
The study, led by Dr Kosuke Inoue of Japan’s Kyoto University demonstrated that walking for a minimal number of days is still associated with a significant decrease in cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
However, it has to be said that each additional day of walking delivers greater benefits over time. Other studies indicate that 7500 steps are the optimum amount.
While walking is a great way to improve overall health and fitness, it is important to note that walking only twice a week may not be enough to significantly lower the risk of a heart attack.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, which equates to approximately 10,000 steps per day.
However, any increase in physical activity can be beneficial for heart health – particularly as you age. One study shows that 85-year-olds that walk for just 10 minutes a day stay healthier for longer.
Walking Improves Cardiovascular Health
Walking is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that can improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate, improving blood flow, and strengthening the heart.
Increasing heart rate improves the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body. This makes the immune system stronger and more able to defend the body against harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Strengthening the heart muscle also makes the organ more efficient at pumping blood and improving cardiovascular function. Walking can also help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Lower Blood Pressure
Regular walking has been shown to lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure improves cardiovascular function.
This is aided by the fact that walking is a great exercise for reducing stress. And stress is a major contributor to high blood pressure. Given 75-90% of patient visits to physician’s clinics, today are stress-related, more people should be targeting ways of reducing stress levels.
And there are knock-on effects. Stress is a factor in weight gain. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can increase appetite and promotes the storage of fat in the body.
By reducing stress levels through walking, you can help prevent the release of cortisol and the urge to turn to comfort foods.
Walking Improves Cholesterol Levels
Walking can help improve cholesterol levels by lowering levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, LDL is a contributor to heart disease by clogging up your arteries.
When you exercise, on the other hand, your body produces HDL cholesterol, which is responsible for removing excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and transporting it to the liver to be eliminated.
Although walking is a low-impact exercise, it can help to manage body weight. Given obese people are at a high risk of heart attack and other health issues, the low entry barrier walking offers makes it a good place to start looking after your heart condition.
Walking can be an effective way to improve weight management because it improves your metabolism, which can lead to increased calorie burning throughout the day. A higher metabolism means your body is burning calories even when you’re not exercising.
When you walk, you burn calories, and the number of calories burned depends on various factors such as your body weight, walking speed, and the distance you walk. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds can burn approximately 100 calories by walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace of 3.5 mph.
Additionally, walking can be a low-impact exercise that is easier on your joints than other forms of exercise, making it more accessible to people who may not be able to participate in higher-impact activities.
Any increase in physical activity, including walking twice a week, can be beneficial for heart health. If you need any motivation to get started, download the Sweatcoin app now and earn money for every step you take.