New research from England indicates that people who walk briskly for exercise have a lower weight on average than people who go to the gym. These results were most distinct in certain population groups which included women, people over 50, and people with lower annual household incomes.
The study spanned a period of 13 years and was based on a survey that asked questions about physical activity from participants. The survey questions were especially designed to focus on certain areas of physical activity like increased heart rate and levels of perspiration. Results that received analysis were individuals who reported physical activities that lasted for 30 minutes or more. These physical activities included:
- Walking fast with a brisk pace
- Moderate intensity workouts that include: swimming, cycling, gym routines, dancing, running, soccer, tennis, and exercises involving push-up and sit-ups
- Heavy housekeeping, like moving large pieces of furniture, walking with large shopping bags, and scrubbing floors
- Heavy manual labor, like digging, cutting down trees, chopping wood, and moving heavy loads
The study’s next step was to collect data on body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). The results showed that for men and women who made a regular brisk walk over 30 minutes in length a habit had lower BMI’s and smaller waistlines than people who regularly performed other forms of exercise or sports.
It has been well established for years that some form of intense physical activity adding to around 150 minutes each week is necessary to keep an adult healthy. However, which specific physical activity is most efficient and delivers the best results on average has never been the subject of research. Current statistics indicate that a large percentage of adults (80 percent in England) do not meet the weekly amount of suggested exercise minutes each week. This adds up to millions of dollars in health care costs annually, due to complications from diseases caused by obesity.
Yet, in light of the new research which indicates the health benefits of brisk walking, new public health messages promoting this form of exercise may be announced in the near future. While diet has been a subject of concern for public health campaigns for decades the simple message that a fast walk that last over 30 minutes has been neglected. Besides being an easy form of exercise to perform, walking is also free, requiring no special equipment or gym membership. For many the key to better health could be a simple solution like walking for a half an hour a day.
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