Like many unhealthy habits, a sedentary lifestyle can be harmful to your health. For this reason, many specialists advise practicing regular physical activity to maintain your body and limit the risk of disease. You don’t have to be an athlete to do this, 30 minutes of walking is enough each day to provide you with a plethora of benefits.
While it is true that many of us face particularly busy days, this should not be a barrier to exercising, especially when it only requires half an hour of our time. Whether it’s a walk or a faster pace to activate your body, walking is a great activity for combining the useful with the enjoyable. But before reviewing its benefits, it is essential to understand what a lack of physical activity can induce in our body.
What are the risks of a sedentary lifestyle?
According to a publication by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3 million deaths each year are attributable to a lack of physical activity. Indeed, a sedentary lifestyle can have deleterious consequences on the body, in particular by “clogging” the body which sees its levels of inflammation and oxidative stress increase, explains Professor François Carré, cardiologist at the University Hospital of Rennes. In addition, lack of exercise combined with prolonged sitting is considered to be a factor that may develop risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The French Federation of Cardiology (FFC) notably makes the link with obesity, of which sedentary lifestyle is a major cause. This may be due to a lack of physical activity during free time, to the use of so-called “passive” transport or to increased sedentary behavior during domestic or professional activities. In this sense, it can be beneficial to change your habits and adopt a healthier routine to maintain a healthy body.
Walking 30 minutes a day: what are the benefits?
If walking differs from other sports practices, it is because it is suitable for all profiles, from the most sedentary to the more active. Here are 5 health benefits of walking for half an hour a day:
1. Better cardiovascular health
According to a study cited by the FCC, half an hour of daily walking reduces the risk of heart attack by 20% on average. A fast pace is ideal for maximum benefit, but you can also start at your own pace and then increase your pace as you get used to the exercise.
2. The key to optimal well-being
Interviewed by Radio Canada, Sally Stewart, exercise science teacher, puts the benefits of walking to the fore. “[Walking] works everything. It works on the physical side and mental well-being too,” she explains. And rightly so, since according to a study published by The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, walking plays an important role in regulating the mental health of individuals. Like other sports, it also helps combat stress, which can affect the body in several ways.
3. A way to stimulate creativity
As Nietzsche said, “Great thoughts are born by walking,” and he wouldn’t be wrong, according to a Stanford University study. Indeed, walking would allow you to clear your mind to sort through your ideas and try to see things differently while enjoying the great outdoors. The next time you get stuck, why not take the test?
4. A simple activity to keep the figure
Obviously, and as with any sport, walking daily can be a big help in shedding extra pounds or just keeping your figure. According to Dr. Stéphane Cascua, sports doctor, we burn 45% of fat while walking, compared to 25% if we favor running!
5. A preventive action against the appearance of varicose veins
Interviewed by Prevention magazine, Dr. Luis Navarro, founder of the Vein Treatment Center in New York City, explains that walking goes a long way in improving blood circulation, which can prevent this health disorder. Also, it can be effective for people who are already prone to it because it helps relieve the swelling and the feeling of heaviness that are characteristic of it.
Overloaded schedule: how to practice physical activity?
To successfully include physical exercise in your daily life, it is essential to seize all the opportunities that come your way.
- Choose the stairs rather than the elevator
- Reduce your lunch break by a third to have time to walk
- Avoid transport when the distance to be covered is short
- Adopt the bike instead of the car when possible
- Take advantage of your dog’s outings to walk
- Get off the metro or bus one station before your final destination
- Walk at a good pace for half an hour each day
- Get up for a few minutes every two hours to move your body
- Get in the habit of talking on the phone by taking a few steps
It can also be beneficial to limit your exposure to screens because they promote a sedentary lifestyle. Instead, focus on hours dedicated to tablets or television to moderate their use and try to practice a short physical activity when you get home before settling on your sofa.