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Living a longer, healthier life requires physical activity, eating healthy, and routine visits to the doctor. When these three factors work together, it allows you to stay your healthiest. In turn- your odds of living longer increase.
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The Importance of Physical Activity
Physical activity doesn’t always mean an intense hour-long workout at the gym every day. While this form of exercise has great benefits, it’s not for everyone.
A more sedentary lifestyle is becoming more common in today’s popular work-from-home world. Fewer people are spending time standing, walking, or moving around.
The American Heart Association found that, “sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950.”
Sedentary Lifestyles and Their Negative Effects
The lack of movement (rather than sitting itself) is the culprit for the negative effects of sedentary jobs. The Mayo Clinic analyzed 13 studies and found that all found, “sitting time and activity levels found in those who sat for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
How Sitting for Extended Periods Can Be Harmful
Most office or stay-at-home workers sit for about 15 hours a day, not including commuting time if there is any. Spending over half of the day seated means workers are spending less time active.
The Benefits of Walking for Your Health
The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking for at least 11 minutes a day combats the negative effects of sitting for extended periods of time. That’s about the length of listening to four songs. More sedentary participants risked dying younger at a much higher rate than active study participants.
This study gathered data from volunteers in Europe and the United States who wore accelerometers. The levels of physical exercise fell into three categories:
- Little physical activity – typically walking two or three minutes a day
- Moderate physical activity- typically 11 minutes of walking a day
- Moderately higher physical activity – 35 minutes of brisk walking or moderate activity
The study gathered data from volunteers in Europe and the United States who wore accelerometers to measure their levels of physical activity. The participants were divided into three categories based on their levels of physical exercise. Those with little physical activity walked two or three minutes a day, while those with moderate physical activity walked about 11 minutes a day. Finally, those with moderately higher physical activity walked about 35 minutes a day at a brisk pace or engaged in moderate physical activity.
The results of the study were clear: participants with little physical activity had a shorter lifespan and were more likely to die prematurely than those who were more active. However, those who moved for 11 minutes per day were found to be much less likely to die prematurely than their sedentary counterparts. The best results for longer lifespans were observed in people who walked about 35 minutes per day at a brisk pace or engaged in moderate physical activity.
Walking offers a range of benefits beyond combating the negative effects of sitting. It can help improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bones and muscles, and even improve mood and cognitive function. Regular walking can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and improve overall quality of life.
Incorporating walking into your daily routine doesn’t have to be difficult. Even taking a short walk during your lunch break, parking your car a little further away from your destination, or walking to nearby stores instead of driving can make a difference. Additionally, walking with a friend or family member can make it a more enjoyable and social activity.
How Much Walking is Enough for a Longer Life?
Participants with little physical activity had a shorter lifespan. Researchers found that 260 percent of these participants were more likely to die prematurely than more active participants. However, participants who moved for 11 minutes per day were found to be much less likely to die prematurely. The best results for longer life spans were with people who walked about 35 minutes per day.
The study conductor, Ulf Ekelund, professor of epidemiology and physical activity at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, Norway explains, “ brisk walking is excellent moderate exercise.” Adding a healthy habit that takes 30 minutes or less may be one of the best and simple ways to lengthen your life.
Take Action Today for a Healthier, Longer Life
Adding healthy habits to your daily routine is much easier than taking away unhealthy habits. In the end, even 11 minutes of a brisk walk creates positive lifelong impacts to increase your lifespan. Start today towards 11 minutes to a longer life.