The Cool Down
Study reveals simple act could stave off 2 leading causes of death among adults: ‘Doesn’t need to be complicated’
Erin Feiger – December 4, 2023
A quick walk a day may keep an early death away.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that as little as 75 minutes a week of moderately intense, non-occupational physical activity substantially lowers the risk of dying from certain types of cancer or heart disease, two of the leading causes of death among adults.
That’s just over an hour a week – and half the 150 minutes a week recommended by the CDC – of activity where your heart rate is 50% to 60% higher than when at rest.
You’ll know you’re at the right level of activity if you can speak while doing it but not sing, according to the CDC. So, while walking outside might make you feel like singing, in order to reap the health benefits of this walk, you’ll have to leave that to the birds.
This study is the largest ever done on this topic, pooling data from 196 articles and over 30 million participants from nearly 100 study groups, so the results are significant.
The Mayo Clinic agrees with its findings, stating that “physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a brisk daily walk can help you live a healthier life.”
This is good news for a large part of the population who find it difficult to carve out 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to commit to a strenuous workout.
Being able to walk in nature, or at least in a park or among trees, has added physical benefits, too.
An article by Lincoln Larson and Aaron Hipp of North Carolina State points out that “nature-based programs can even be prescribed by health care providers as part of alternative, cost-effective treatment plans.”
However, a brisk 10-minute walk among trees is likely not an option for over 80% of the population in the United States and over 50% of the world’s population who live in urban centers or urban heat islands.
Creating more green space and more walkable cities would not only allow more people to easily achieve this health benefit, but it would also reduce pollution caused by cars.
If a 10-minute walk isn’t an option for you, then find something that is, like dancing, biking, or swimming.