Can a brisk 20-minute walk each day help you live longer? A recent study suggests so, finding that a sedentary lifestyle contributes more to early death than obesity.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study analyzed data collected during a 12-year timespan for 334,000 unique participants. This study aimed to better understand all-cause mortality. Height and weight, waist circumference, and activity levels were evaluated and compared.
It turns out, a sedentary lifestyle not only increases ones risk of death over obesity but doubles it. While overall body weight is a significant mortality risk, waist circumference is shown to be a primary contributor to stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer – all of which shrink life expectancy. Those who simply lose weight in areas other than their center can reduce their risk of early death but not as much as they could by simply adding light physical activity into their daily routine.
Whether overweight or of normal weight, even small efforts to increase physical activity were shown to notably reduce risk factors – especially for the most inactive. In fact, moving from sedentary to moderately inactive, such as burning between 90 and 110 extra calories per day, could reduce ones risk of death from around 30 to just 16 percent. This is equivalent to merely adding a brisk 20-minute walk into ones daily routine.
Walking helps to improve blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and mental wellness while reducing the risk of osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Walking can also contribute to weight loss and easier weight maintenance. Aerobic exercise as a whole can boost the immune system, strengthen muscles, and enhance cognitive abilities. As opposed to focusing on losing weight, it might be time to shift the conversation toward adding a brisk and brief daily walk.