When you’re stressed, you may need some time to clear your head, pace your thoughts or even calm yourself down. A nice long walk may be just what the doctor ordered. With that said, don’t be surprised if the next time you go see your doctor he or she hands you a prescription to walk. This simple activity has been touted as “the closest thing to a wonder drug,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Harvard Medical School. Below you will find what walking 15 minutes a day can do for your body.
Reduce the Risk of A Stroke or Other Cardiovascular Issues: In a 2009 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, walking was reported as extremely underrated. So to prove that hypothesis, scientists went through over 4,200 articles that had been published on walking between 1997-2007. Eighteen of the articles they found met their standards for quality. Each of the studies collected information of each of the participant’s walking habits and their cardiovascular risk habits which included age, alcohol use and smoking. Each participant was followed for 11 years, and during those years, cardiovascular events and deaths were recorded. When the data was compiled at the end of the 11 years, scientists found that walking 2.5 hours a week (21 minutes a day) reduced cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of early death by 32%.
Battles Obesity: Every individual contains weight-promoting genes, according to the Harvard Medical School. One of the easiest ways to battle obesity is to try and cut those weight-promoting genes in half. So to determine how to do this, Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people. They found that participants who walked for about an hour a day cut the weight-promoting genes in half. In addition, there is a pair of studies from the University of Exter that found that walking 15 minutes can also help curb sweet tooth cravings, which plays a significant part in obesity.
Lowers Blood Pressure: If you have high blood pressure, a nice calming walk may be just what you need. Researchers from Arizona State University would agree. They conducted a study on the association between walking and lower blood pressure, and they found that just 10 minutes of walking per day was effective in helping lower blood pressure. If you were to walk 15-20 minutes, you’re increasing your odds even more of reducing your blood pressure.
Boost Memory: It’s evident that exercise is great for the brain, since serotonin binds with the brains receptors. But walking can help boost the memory, according to a 2011 study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that participants who would walk 40 minutes a week, which could be stretched out to three to four times per week, has the potential to increase hippocampus activity by 2%, which is significant. In addition, another study that was presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, found that a regular brisk walk (could be between 15-20 minutes) could slow down the shrinking of the brain. For the study, participants were between the ages of 60 to 80, which is generally when many people either deal with early-onset dementia, or late stage dementia.
Eases Joint Pain: Physical therapist Eric Robertson told WebMD that for osteoarthritis (OA), the cartilage acts as a shock absorber, especially in your knees, and can become damaged or worn down. He added that you’ll experience stiffness, pain and issues moving. But exercise, especially walking, can help rebuild that joint. The Harvard Medical School also mentions that walking can also help protect the joints by lubricating them.
Curb Stress Eating: Lyndi Cohen, of the Nude Nutritionists, explained to the Daily Mailthat going for a walk is the simplest thing to do in order to combat stress eating. She added that she had firsthand experience with stress eating and when she realized the signs, she lost 40 lbs. Cohen is not wrong, when you have higher serotonin levels, you’re going to feel less stressed, which can lead to less stress eating. Whether it’s 15 or 20 minutes, walking will help boost those serotonin levels.