Live longer. It’s safe to say we all share this one common goal. So, we all try to eat our green veggies, sleep at least eight hours a night, and work out more—all of which is great, but if you really want to live longer, there’s only one thing you need to do more of. It’s something you already do every day, and it doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store, an earlier bedtime, or a gym membership. All you have to do is walk. Study after study confirms it: If you want to add years to your life, walk more. Scroll through for the scientific proof!
The simple act of walking is inherently anti-aging. It helps repair damaged cells and boost cognitive function. Studies have shown that a 20-minute daily walk can add three to seven years to your life. A study of over 330,000 people at Cambridge University found that 20 minutes of walking a day cuts the risk of premature death by a third in moderately healthy individuals. The obese can cut their risk by 16%.
The research indicates lack of exercise kills more people than obesity. A 2003 study of over 1000 Americans found that the average number of daily steps for women is 4793. That’s less than half the recommended 10,000, and 5000 steps per day is technically classified as “sedentary.” A study out of the University of Sydney showed that trading one hour of sitting for one hour of walking could cut your risk of early death by about 14%—that could add up to an additional nine years. Researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine found that people who walked (or engaged in some type of light activity) for just two minutes each hour had a 33% lower chance of dying during the study compared to those who did not get up and move. The average American spends nine to 10 hours sitting every day, and sitting for over eight hours a day is associated with a 90% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, along with increased risks of heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.
Regular walks decrease your risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cardiac death, and Alzheimer’s. Studies show a 30-minute daily stroll can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 30%, a mile-long walk a day slashes a diabetic’s odds of dying from the disease by 39%.
Harvard scientists found that walking for at least three hours a week reduces the odds of heart attack and cardiac death by 35%. And a 10-year study of over 200 women found that walking at least one mile (that’s about 2000 steps—one-fifth of your recommended daily quota) per day lowered their risk of heart disease by a whopping 82%. Benefits were observed even at total distances of five and a half miles a week and paces as casual as two miles per hour.
It’s pretty simple: Walk to live longer; walk faster to live even longer. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that how fast you walk is a good indicator of how long you’ll live. While that may sound kind of morbid, you should also know the research indicated that the people who improved their walking speed over a year had an increased survival rate over the following eight years compared to those who kept their same pace. And a meta-analysis of all relevant research published between 1970 and 2007 showed that people who walked fastest enjoyed the strongest live-extending boons.
Want to keep track of your steps, distance, and pace? Try sporting an activity-tracking watch like Motorola's Moto 360 Sport ($300).
How much do you walk a day? Will you commit to walking more this year? Tell us below!