Achievable – can be done nearly anywhere, anytime.
Easy – just get up and walk!
Benefits of walking
Walking just 30 minutes a day can help you to maintain and improve your health.
A range of studies have shown that physical inactivity increases the incidence of common health complaints, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, gallstone formation and even some types of canceriii.
Amongst these studies, people who participated in just 30 minutes of moderate activity – such as brisk walking – each day, reduced their levels of risk. This is to do with the fact that our basic human ‘genetic’ make-up has not really changed from 10,000 years ago, when a hunter-gatherer lifestyle involving daily moderate physical activity was an essential part of survival iii.
…improves balance, coordination and spinal health.
One recent study has shown that walking for 40 minutes 3 times a week can improve connectivity in the brain and even counteract some of the brain decline that occurs as a result of ageing. iv v
…increases aerobic fitness – improves heart and lung function and aids weight-loss.
It’s probably not surprising that a recent study has shown that sedentary, overweight women who actively use a pedometer program to increase activity show improvements in waist circumference as well as health measures such as heart rate, BMI, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels. vi
…decreases bone loss.
There is evidence to suggest that regular exercise, such as walking, can have a positive long-term impact on an individual’s balance and gait, and may even protect high-risk elderly women from hip fractures.vii
…improves blood and lymph circulation.
It has been shown that there is a correlation between increased peak fitness, through regular aerobic exercise, and improved blood flow. viii
…boosts mood, alertness and energy levels.
Did you know that decline in mental ability and health can be delayed by walking? One study shows that women with “higher levels of baseline activity” are less likely to develop cognitive decline . Other studies have shown that in cognitive testing of elderly persons, better results were achieved by those who were physically active than those who were inactive. x
Not surprisingly, individuals who undertake higher physical activity levels during their mid-life years, have been found to enjoy an improved health status in later years. xi
Global Recommendations for Physical Activity
The World Health Organisation outlines the following recommendations for physical activity, broken down by age group xii :
Children 5 to 17 yrs
Adults 18 and over
Additional considerations for Adults 65+
Accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.
Most of the daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone*, at least 3 times per week.
* For this age group, bone-loading activities can be performed as part of playing games, running, turning or jumping.
Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week
Older adults, with poor mobility, should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
When older adults cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.