Worried about aging over 40? It turns out that we can add years to our lives by doing something most of us learned before the age of two – walking.
A brisk walk can be a chance to lift your mood, to chat with a friend, or to enjoy a change of scenery. But did you know how many years walking might add to your life? (Hint: it’s a lot more than you might think!) Researchers have looked at combined data from six studies that followed nearly 650,000 people over time. They concluded that no matter what your current weight, your life expectancy will improve if you add some moderate exercise into your week. And the amount of time paid back for the amount of time invested is the kind of return any of us would love to take to the bank.
The World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Cancer Society are among the organizations that recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise a week. Any period of exercise that lasts 10 minutes or more counts toward the weekly total. In addition to walking, such activities might include dancing, gardening or doing chores, as long as a moderate amount of effort is required and the activity noticeably increases your heart rate.
Let’s say you walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You are an active person. What could you gain after 40? Here’s what researchers found:
- An active person has an overall increase in life expectancy of 3.4 to 4.5 years.
- A normal weight active person increases life expectancy 7.2 years over an inactive person who is also categorized as obese.
- An obese active person has 3.1 additional years of life expectancy compared with a normal weight person who is inactive.
Pressed by a reporter to really break down the numbers, a researcher offered the following: for every minute you spend doing moderate exercise, you could gain 7 minutes of extra life. That 7:1 figure has some qualifiers, but the general principle of a huge return on a moderate investment is sound.
Walking 30 minutes a day is known to have a positive impact on all of these important health factors:
- Coronary heart disease
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Healthy body weight
- Mental well being
- Risk of breast and colon cancer
Moral of the story? Walking is a great way to add years to your life, and life to your years. So lace up your shoes, walk out the door, and get moving. Your longer life is ready for you! Enjoy!