Walking -For surprising benefits….
5 surprising benefits of walking
The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this simple activity that you’ve been doing since you were about a year old is now being touted as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” in the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of course, you probably know that any physical activity, including walking, is a boon to your overall health. But walking in particular comes with a host of benefits. Here’s a list of five that may surprise you.
1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes.
Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
2. It helps tame a sweet tooth.
A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.
Walking for 2.5 hours a week — that’s just 21 minutes a day — can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%. In addition, this do-anywhere, no-equipment-required activity has also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and keep you mentally sharp.
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3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.
Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.
4. It eases joint pain.
Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
5. It boosts immune function.
Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder
No excuses: How to layer up for walking in cold weather
“It’s too cold.” “It’s too hot.” “It’s raining.” Weather-related excuses are some of the most common reasons that walkers don’t walk. But with the right clothing and preparation, almost any type of weather can be walking weather.
A key to staying warm when you’re walking in cold temperatures is to stay dry — and that’s exactly what layering helps you do. By removing layers as you warm up, you’ll avoid excessive sweating, which can cause you to become chilled, especially later in your walk. Then you can replace layers as you cool down to remain warm.
Try this three-step layering system on your next walk. With the right clothing, you might even enjoy winter walking!
Start with a light synthetic fabric, such as Cool-Max or polypropylene, closest to your skin. It will pull sweat away from your skin and allow it to dry quickly.
This is your insulation. Look for a fleece, sweater, or sweatshirt made of a synthetic fabric like Polartec, or a wool blend that provides warmth while wicking away moisture. (Avoid cotton, because it stays wet.) Depending on the temperature, you may want insulating bottoms, too. You can also select different thickness levels for more or less insulation, or double up on this layer if it’s really cold.
This one protects you from wind, rain, or snow. A waterproof or water-resistant (depending on where you live) breathable jacket and pants, such as those made of Gore-Tex, will keep you warm and dry. Look for styles with vents that you can easily open and close to stay comfortable. Velcro or drawstrings at your waist and wrists will also prevent cold air from sneaking in.
When choosing layers, dress for a temperature that’s about 10 degrees higher than the day’s forecast, because you’ll be generating your own heat as you get moving. And don’t forget to cover your ears, hands, and head.