Improve Sleep, Beat a Bad Mood & Add 7 Years To Your Life by Simply Walking

You might have heard that sitting is the new smoking. Moving throughout the day and, especially walking, is the solution! But how much should we be walking? Read our post to discover:

  • The incredible and fast benefits of walking
  • Should you be walking or going to the gym?
  • How many steps to take during the day to reap the benefits
  • Top 7 tips to get you moving

We spend too much time sitting down, which is slowly but surely killing us. Researchers have found that those who spend a long time sitting have a 50% higher chance of death from a variety of diseases. And this includes sitting at your desk, in front of a TV and in your car.

Movement - as much as possible and throughout the day - is the key to a longer life.

“WALKING IS A SUPERFOOD”

According to Katy Bowman, author of “Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement”:

"Walking is a superfood... It's the defining movement of a human."

Just some of the benefits of walking are:

  1. Adds years to your life and delays aging. A German study found that just 25-minutes of walking per day can add 3-7 years to your life and delays the process of aging.
  2. Cuts the risk of stroke – a study published in the Stroke Journal showed that older men that walked more were less likely to get a stroke.
  3. Natural Antidepressant – research conducted by a neuroscientist and his team at Duke University (studying 3 groups of patients) found that walking or running is as effective for the treatment of depression in the short-term as a course of anti-depressant meds.
  4. Gives you a good mood – researchers at California State University, Long Beach, showed an improvement in the mood with the increase of steps per day. This can be explained by the fact that walking helps release pain­killing endorphins to the body.
  5. Improves sleep. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women, aged 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk.

WALKING… OR GOING TO THE GYM?

But what if you’re already going to the gym or doing yoga daily? Should you be ‘exempt’ from walking?

According to Katy… no. She says: “Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day. You can't offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise."

Your gym workout or a yoga session should be an addition, and not a substitute for your movement throughout the day.

HOW MANY STEPS SHOULD WE TAKE PER DAY?

The average person takes between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day, according to the UK’s National Health Service.

So how many steps should you be taking?

Many experts have settled around the 10,000 steps / day mark. A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine determined that a person who is “somewhat active” should be making over 7500 steps – with over 10000 steps putting you into the “active” category.

An average person takes 3,000-4,000 steps per day. Whereas we should aim for 10,000 steps per day!

Top tips to get moving throughout the day

  1. Stand up – get a standing desk a work, stand during your meetings or while watching TV at home. You’re much more likely to be continuously moving while standing.
  2. Walk barefoot if you can – walking barefoot on the grass or on the beach is an amazing way to connect your body with an infinite supply of electrons from the ground (which act as antioxidants, aiding you in fighting against issues such as inflammation and stress). Do this for 15-30 minutes and notice how clear-headed and energized you feel.
  3. Break up your walks – if your total number of target steps/walking-time per day seems like an overwhelming amount (meaning you’d be more likely to postpone and possibly miss it) – break it up into several walks. For example, walk to work, walk during your lunch and walk back home.
  4. See and create opportunities for moving - If you take a bus or underground to your office or school - leave a few stations station early and walk the rest of the way. If you’re feeling unproductive at work – walk a flight of stairs. Walk around the block after dinner or before going to bed (this has addition benefits for your digestion and sleep). Very soon you’ll be noticing (and getting excited about!) more opportunities for movement.
  5. Count your steps – tracking devices such as FitBit or Jawbone make your daily walking a lot of fun. They will show you exactly how many steps you take per day. From our experience - they’re very motivating, as you will be actively looking for opportunities to ramp up your steps! Set yourself daily goals and slowly increase the amount of steps you take daily.
  6. Boost your creativity by a whole 60% whenever you feel stale energy and creative blockages, walking is the best way out. Researchers at Stanford University found that walking boosts creativity, increasing a person’s creative output by 60%. This burst of creativity will even last for a short while after you sit down.

Walking has been found to boost creativity by 60%. When you're feeling stale - get up and walk!

  1. Digital detox – mindfulness expert Dr. Barbara Mariposa recommends going for walks without your phone. Instead of being busy snapping, tweeting, instagramming, your walk will become your mindfulness retreat.

Happy walking!

 

REFERENCES

Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, Bouchard C. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May

Arthritis Foundation. 12 Benefits of Walking.

Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months. Babyak M, PhD, Blumenthal JA, PhD et al. Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Med. 2004;34(1):1-8. Authors: Tudor-Locke C1, Bassett DR Jr.

Stanford study finds walking improves creativity. Stanford News.


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