Presse Santé

Just 30 minutes of walking a day protects your health

The simple act of walking about thirty minutes a day is associated with a 20% reduction in the risk of dying prematurely.

Although the human species is distinguished from other animals by its intelligence, we must not forget that our body, with its 640 muscles and 206 bones (that is, half of our body mass), is also perfectly adapted to intense physical exertion. During evolution, it is estimated that humans routinely walked up to 20 km per day (more than 20,000 steps) to obtain enough caloric food to support brain function and evolution. Therefore, we were not born only to think and innovate, but also, and perhaps above all, to move.

Physical inactivity, a factor in the occurrence of cardiovascular accidents, diabetes and cancer

Just a century ago, all aspects of daily life required physical exertion, both at work and at home. Today, advances in technology mean that most of us are far less active than ever before: we drive to work, take the elevator to the office, work all day on a computer, and spend our evenings passively in front of a screen. (television, telephone, computer). On average, it is estimated that an adult European spends almost 10 hours of their waking period each day in sedentary activities, without any physical exertion!

This extreme sedentary lifestyle is very bad for your health: for example, several studies have shown that people who watch television for more than 4 hours a day have a higher risk of being affected by cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes or even certain types of cancer. . . On the contrary, physical exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden death), type 2 diabetes, at least 13 different types of cancer, and cognitive impairment, a goal that is absolutely impossible to achieve with currently available drugs.

Walking 30 min/day reduces the risk of health problems by 20%

Too often, sedentary people are put off by the idea of ​​being more physically active because they believe that it necessarily involves playing demanding sports. Our society places a high value on elite or extreme sports, which can give the impression that exercising is synonymous with spectacular sports performance or breaking records.

This is totally untrue, as research in recent years has clearly shown that the benefits of physical activity can be seen at relatively low levels of exercise. For example, a large study of half a million men and women found that just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day (walking, for example) is enough to reduce the risk of premature death.

The more we walk, the healthier we are

Obviously, these benefits will be even greater if the duration of the exercise is increased, with a maximum protection of approximately 35% during 90 minutes of walking per day. This is true for both young and old: for example, a study in Hawaii showed that people aged 65 and over who walked 3.2 km or more per day, or about 5,000 steps, had twice the risk of premature mortality lower than sedentary people.

Walking faster also seems to provide greater benefits: for example, a recent study showed that people who walk fast (enough to get out of breath, around 7 km/h) have a 25% lower risk of premature death, in compared to people who walk faster. who walks very slowly.

So you don’t have to train to exhaustion or run a marathon to enjoy the health benefits of physical activity. The simple act of integrating 30 minutes of walking into the daily routine, either in a single session or in several segments, is more than enough to considerably reduce the risk of premature death and significantly improve quality of life.

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WenCP et al. Minimum amount of physical activity to reduce mortality and prolong life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet 2011; 378: 1244-1253.

Hakim AA et al. Effects of walking on mortality among nonsmoking retired men. N Engl J Med. 1998; 338: 94-99.

Stamatakis E. et al. Self-assessed walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50,225 walkers from 11 British population-based cohorts. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018; 52:761.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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