Incredible health benefits from a 10-minute walk

Incredible health benefits from a 10-minute walk

Do you have 10 minutes to spare?  If so, take a walk.  Taking time to walk can be incredibly health-sustaining helping you live longer and live better. Besides, walking is free, low impact and can be done almost anywhere, anytime.  Take advantage of this by sneaking in a 10-minutes power walk each day.

 Group of women in their 30s walking together in the outdoors. Cute blond and fit women in their mid 30s who are active and working to stay healthy. Full length photo with copy space

The human body wants and is meant to move – and to move frequently throughout each day. Frequent activity by taking just 10 minutes can benefit your health by controlling your weight and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. One study of 27,000 women found that the women getting the most exercise had a 40 percent reduction in heart attack and stroke compared with those getting the least. Exercise can also lower blood pressure.  That is great news since high blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. In addition, regular exercise may also boost your mood, help you think more clearly, and get better sleep.

What’s so special about walking?

It seems as if walking is always the number one go-to way of becoming more physically active, and for good reason. Part of the reason begins in the brain – specifically the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory (among other things), but can also shrink with age increasing your risk of developing dementia. A 2011 study tracked people who walked for 40 minutes three times a week, found that these subjects increased the volume of their hippocampus by 2 percent. While that figure may seem small, the 2 percent increase actually reversed age-related volume loss by one to two years.

Another more recent study found that walking at a moderate pace or faster, for up to an hour each day (no matter if each spurt of movement was only five or 10 minutes long), can slash a person’s risk of an early death in half.  Take notice of how many hours a day you may be sitting in front of a computer or driving a car.  Getting up frequently to walk around is the best way to break up a dangerously sedentary lifestyle.

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of using walking as an aerobic exercise. The goal is to make sure you are doing at least 10 minutes of brisk walking, where you break a sweat and your heart is beating faster. You should still be able to talk with a friend while walking but not very well if you tried to sing.

Ideally you want to obtain at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity five days a week.  But if you are just getting started, don’t worry about hitting those targets right away.  Build up to them and then keep the exercise consistent and regular.

Ways to get walking

Even if you have a busy schedule, likely you can squeeze in at least 10 minutes of free time in your day. Figure out where and when you have time and then schedule in a walk or two.

To get you started on getting in more walking, here are some ideas to consider:

·      Early morning – Start your day right by adding in several minutes’ worth of a brisk walk. It’ll not only get your blood pumping and calories burning but when done, you’ll be wide awake and reenergized to face the day.

·      Change your commute to work – If you have the ability, walk to work.  Otherwise, could you park your car as far from the front entrance as possible? Of if you take public transportation, get off at an earlier stop to give yourself a longer walk to work.

·      Lunch break – Lunch breaks can be an opportunity to schedule in a walk.  It can be as simple as a walk around your building, the parking lot, or to nearby park. Or choose a lunch spot that about 10-minutes’ walk away there and back, so you’ll double your time to 20 minutes total.

·      After work – Consider joining or organizing a walking club.  Walking with family or friends can be inspiring, encouraging, and enjoyable. It’s a great way to not only get in a brisk walk but also to catch up with each other.

·      Beat the weather – Weather happens so when it isn’t suitable to walk outdoors, go to the local mall or to an indoor walking track. Fitness clubs or community centers may have walking tracks you can use for free or a small fee. There are also walking exercise DVDs you can buy to use at home.