Nowadays, many people suffer from many diseases due to lack of physical activity. Many researches have been conducted to found the relation between physical inactivity with several health problem. Those studies later discovered and mentioned many data that may surprise us. Physical inactivity is one of main cause of obesity which leads to other serious health problem. Below are the data that show correlation of physical inactivity and several health problem.
- According to national Statistic in 2008 almost 61% of English adults including 65% of men, 56% of women and 30% of children are claimed as overweight or obese. Data also show that 24% of adults and 17% of children are clinically obese.
- World Health Organisation define that Overweight and obesity can be calculated by the counting body mass index (BMI). The number of BMI calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in metres. People with a BMI of 25 or more is categorized as overweight, while 30 or more is obese
- According to HM Goverment in 2008, people with a BMI over 35 are 20 times has higher risk to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those with a lower BMI of about 18-25.
- With each unit of BMI the risk of Coronary Artery Disease also increases by 3.6 times while 85% of high blood pressure case is linked with BMI over 25.
- Excessive weight is also linked to higher risk of cancer and fatty liver disease.
- Study by Prentice and Jebb in 1995 stated that decreasing activity levels rather than increasing calorie intake may be the dominant factor in the rise in obesity
Many types of activities including sport is recommended to improve better physical activity. One of the most popular physical activity is walking. Dr. Bob Sallis, a family practitioner at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Fontana, California stated that there is a drug which has been proved can overcome many health problem such as diabetes, depression, dementia, breast and colon cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, anxiety and osteoporosis. Later Sallis announced that the drug called walking.
Walking can be performed by almost anyone and it doesn’t need anything. You just need to walk to achieve the benefits. It is recommended to walk 30 minutes a day for five days in a week for adult while children need to double the time of walking for seven days in a week. Walking an hour a day will really give great impact to your body and it has been proven by many researchers. Here some reasons why we should walk an hour a day :
- Walking is totally free and it requires no special equipment like other type of sport. It also don’t need any trainer or gym club membership. It is the cheapest kind of physical activity.
- Walking is considered safe and has low-impact to the body with low risk of injuries and accidents.
- Walking can be performed almost anywhere and at any time.
- Walking can be started slowly and easily and build up gradually
Health Benefits of Walking One Hour a Day
Studies which published in some medical journals show that walking and other physical activity could cut rates of many of these diseases by at least 40 percent, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. According to the American Public Health Association Walking and other physical activity can save Americans more than $100 billion a year in health care costs. Here are some health benefits which provided when you take one hour of walking everyday :
Benefits to Cardiovascular (CVD)
- Improves heart health. Walking one hour a day can certainly improves heart healthy. By walking regularly, we reduce the risk of heart disease by 50%.
- Lower blood pressure. Walking can lower blood pressure, although more research is still needed to determine the specific walking intensity that results in the best blood‐pressure improvements benefits.
- Lower the risk of stroke. Walking one hour a day can result in reductions in ischaemic stroke risk and as a result of duration, and the benefits also increase as the amount of walking increases. The longer walk you take the lower risk of stroke you got.
- Reduce cholesterol. Walking has been proven can increase good cholesterol level or known as HDL ( High Density Lipoprotein) and decrease the level of bad cholesterol which known as LDL ( Low Density Lipoprotein).
- Prevent atherosclerosis. By decreasing the bad cholesterol level in the body, walking an hour a day can slightly inhibit the accumulation of cholesterol inside arteries wall and prevent from atherosclerosis.
Benefits for Muscle and Bones
- Strengthen muscle. You don’t need to go gym to strengthen your muscle, just simply taking walk at least 20 minutes a day, it will improves your muscle strength especially legs and arms.
- Improve flexibility. Not only increasing muscle strength, walking can improve your body flexibiliy and it make you easier to move and prevent you from muscle stiffness.
- Strengthen bones. Taking calcium will make your bones stay strong but physical inactivity will also resulting in losing bone mass. Study show that people who perform regular walking has better bone density and stronger bones compare to people who are physically inactive.
- Prevent osteoporosis. Improve better bone density and stronger bones means you reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in elder age. It has been clinically proven that physical activity include walking can significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Increase muscle endurance. Walking will make your muscle remain strong and not easily get tired. By training your muscle with walking, you have increase your muscle endurance and it will help you in performing many other types of activity such as working.
- Improves balance. Lack of physical activity will resulting imbalance body. Imbalance body is a sign of aging and walking has been proven can help to improves body balance which will make you perform better activities such as sport, dancing and other activity that requires balance body.
- Improves body posture. If you having problem with body posture such as scoliosis, or other types of backbone posture problem, walking can help in repair the posture. Walking an hour a day will help your body to shape better bones and muscle.
Benefits for Brain and Mental Health
- Maintain healthy brain. Research findings that walking currently affected brain health and it can relieve symptoms of several mental illness and improve individual quality of life
- Relieve depression and stress. Active people including those who perform one hour walking have a reduced risk of suffering clinical depression. Based on a study published in Mental and Health Foundation Journal in 2005 mentioned that regular physical activity is at least as effective as antidepressant drugs in treating mild and moderate stress as well as depression
- Prevent alzheimer. Regular walking one hour a day or walking on average 6 miles can reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease by 50% for about five years around.
- Reduce physical anxiety. Anxiety can be experienced by people and it can triggered bad negative emotion. Walking in a green area with fresh air can help to reduce physical anxiety and make you feel comfortable.
- Promotes good mood. US department of Health states that walking can promotes endhorphin production. Endorphin is well known as hormones which can get rid of stress and promotes good mood in the body.
- Improve learning performance. Walking not only keep healthy brain but it improves brain function in learning process. Children or student who takes regular walk a day have better learning result compare to those who are physically inactive. By another words walking one hour a day can make you smarter. Walking also improves oxygen transport to brain that increase alertness and better learning performance.
- Increase creativity. It is proven that walking regularly at least 30 minutes a day can improve cognitive function and creativity. It sound unbelievable but it is true.
- Improve memory. Walking one hour a day regularly can increase the size of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Those area in brain are responsible in saving memory and keeping information in the brain.
- Improve sleep quality. If you having problem with sleep deprivation or disorder taking walk an hour during day can help you to improve sleep quality since walking can improve blood flow and promotes calming nerves.
- Improve self esteem. According to study by Dawson et al in 2006, walking can improve self esteem. Walking in a group can be a sociable activity that can help improve mental health and overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness. This may give benefits in increase the self esteem of someone to social environment.
Benefits for Cancer
- Prevent most types of cancer. Regular walking can reduce the risk of certain cancers. Study found that active people have 40-50% lower risk of developing colon cancer than inactive people and has lower risk in developing almost all types of cancer.
- Reduce the risk of breast cancer. Study found that walking an hour a day regularly can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 31%. This regular of walking also lower the risk breast cancer recur in women.
- Lower the risk of prostate cancer. It is found that prostate cancer survivor who walk 90 min/week have nearly 50% lower mortality risk. The longer walking can be performed, the lower the risk of cancer you gain.
- Improve the life quality of cancer survivor. Walking and other types of physical activity can improves life quality of cancer survivor. It can improve breathing capacity, reduce pain of chemotherapy and improve better organ function in cancer patient.
Benefits for Weight Lost
- Burn fat and calories. Walking one hour or about 5 miles a day can burn up at least 300kcal/420kJ of Energy. This amount of burning calories is as much as swimming for 10 minutes, playing football for 12 minutes or doing aerobics for 16 minutes.
- Decreased body weight. By decrease body fat and burn calories, study by Morriss and hardman in 1997 show that walking at least two miles/3.2km a day in four times a week, can help reduce weight by 0.5kg/1 pound every month. So if you want to lose weigh start to walk right now.
- Increase metabolism. Physical activity including walking for an hour can increase metabolism rate and promotes fat burning to produce more energy for the body. It can be beneficial to people who have slow metabolism rate especially people wilt high Body mass Index (BMI).
- Prevent obesity. Obesity is major cause of heart disease, obesity and other serious health problem. Walking one hour a day can slightly reduce the risk of obesity that is caused by physical inactivity.
Benefits for Diabetes
- Control blood sugar level. Walking and other types of physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity and help the body to regulate sugar level within the blood. This benefits is aids to patient which suffer from diabetes.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes type 2. Study reported that walking at least 30 minutes a day in four days per week can reduce the risk of diabetes by nearly 60% and the risk will be lowered by the increasing of the walking time.
- Improve life quality of diabetes patient. Walking one hour a day can increase the fitness of diabetes patient (heart and respiratory system). Study also reported that walking at least two hours per week can prevent death of one person in 61 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
Benefits in Reducing Pain
- Relieve fatigue. During walking, body release several hormones such as endhorphine that can relieve pain and reduce fatigue.
- Cure headache. Walking in one hour a day can improve blood circulation and prevent you from getting headache that caused by abnormal blood flow within the brain. Walking also can be effective cure for people who used to experience severe headache or migraine.
- Reduce lower back pain. It recommended for people who have lower back pain to perform regular walking. Walking regularly one hour a day can help to improve back bone health and reduce lower back pain that caused by injury or other factors.
- Reduce pain in arthritis. Walking can reduce joint pain in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and improve function, mood, mobility, and quality of the patient life without worsening symptoms.
- Promotes healthy digestion. Walking can promotes healthy digestion by increasing intestine ability to increase nutrients
- Prevent Cold. Prevent cold is one of benefits which can be gain by performing one hour walking a day since walking can improves immune system function in fighting viral disease.
- Reduce the risk of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a type of complex eyes disorder that can be worse and cause blindness. Glaucoma can be caused many factor and one of them is poor blood circulation. Walking one hour a day can improve blood circulation and keep healthy blood flow within the eyes and prevent from lost vision.
- Reduce the risk of lung disease. Walking improve breath capability and increase lung capacity while breathing. This benefits may protect the lung from several problem and disease including asthma and bronchitis.
- Delay aging. People who perform regular walking will look younger than their actual age. Yes, physical activity including walking can slower aging and make you younger. A BBC news mentioned that one of oldest man who live on earth take regular walk 5 miles a day.
- Maintain healthy skin. Walking can make your skin healthy since it increase blood flow and nourish your skin with better nutrition and oxygen transport. When walking your body will also release sweat that may get rid of toxin from the body.
- Boost immune system. Walking can strengthen immune system and improve body ability in fighting disease. Study reported that walking minimum 30 minutes a day can promote white blood cells count and it slighlty help your body to recover from disease faster,
- Help in control addiction. If you want to reduce addiction to alcohol, caffeine and other addictive substance, walking can really help. Still no exact study how long walking should be performed to show this best benefits but really talking walk will help you to get rid of craving something since it promotes better brain function and better blood circulation.
- Promotes longer lifespan. On average, every minute of walking can extend your life by 1.5 to 2 minutes so by walking one hour a day you have longer your life span by 120 minutes or two hours. Doesn’t it sound amazing?
Walking almost don’t have any health risk but must be considered for them who has injury. Even people know that walking provides many benefits still not many people perform this activity since there are some barriers. Below are the barriers that can prevent someone for having walk based on Journal of Collaboration of Health, UK
1. Environment barriers
- Lack of walking paths / pavements
- Poor quality walking surfaces
- High‐speed traffic
- Air pollution / traffic fumes
- Lack of attractive places to walk (e.g. green space)
- Too many steps
- Few places to sit
2. Personal Barriers
- Unfit / health problems
- Too tired
- Lack of time
- Lack of family support
- Unsafe: fear of injury, crime (especially after dark) and getting lost
- Some cultures may see exercise as inappropriate for women/girls
Tips for Healthy Walking
To start walking an hour a day you can follow these tips to make your walking activity more enjoyable while you chasing the benefits. Check these out
- Make walking as your habit and start it slowly. Try to walk to nearest shop, market, school or any place. It will give you better health and increase your body endurance
- Start to walk slowly then you can increase the length and speed of walk step by step as you feel comfortable
- You can walk on many and different places to avoid boredom, great news is you can also perform a walk in a shopping mall
- Take appropriate clothes, sun block and other stuffs that can make sure you perform save walking
- Try to breathe deeply and rhythmically while walking and control your breath in four paces and out for four.
- If possible use a calendar or diary to track your walking progress and motivate you to walk more
- Ask your friend or family to walk with you, it will make your walking session more fun
- Be patient. You may not gain the benefits of walking in just a day. The benefits will be felt by you may be after six weeks of performing regular walking
If you have any concerns about walking, you can ask to local health practitioner and getting some support. Just keep in faith you can get all those benefits and keep your body healthy.