A walk a day keeps disease away

US Navy 070602-N-6247M-007 Capt. Martin Clark ...

Walking is my exercise of choice, at least when it’s warm out. In a new report published last week, Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and others have found that walking an hour a day lowers your risk of death by 39%.

Current recommendations for leisure physical activities for adults is to get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity or 75 minutes (1.25) hours of vigorous intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week. They define moderate-intensity activities are those at the level of a brisk walk. Vigorous-intensity activities increase your heart rate and breathing, and make you sweat.

People who do the recommended level of activity lowered their risk of death by 31% compared to those who got no leisure-time activity.

People who got 3 to 5 times the recommended amount lowered their risk of death by 39% compared to those getting no leisure-time activity.

Getting more exercise than the levels shown in the study did not make an additional difference. It neither increase or decreased your risks. The authors say these findings can reassure very active people that high levels of exercise are safe.

The Hill

That is reassuring for me since during the summer I easily surpass these levels. Just last weekend I spent an hour volunteering with other neighbors doing a neighborhood clean up on Saturday, and about 3 hours doing yard work on the hill on Sunday.

Every little bit helps

There are many, many ways to get 3 to 5 times the recommended amount of leisure-time physical activity. They include:

  • Walking 7 hours a week
  • Biking leisurely 5 hours a week
  • Running at a 10 minute-per-mile pace for 2 hours and 15 minutes a week

Walking for Cancer Prevention?

For most Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet, and physical activity. One-third of all cancer deaths in the United States each year are linked to diet and physical activity, including being overweight or obese, while another third is caused by tobacco products

In the past, I’ve told you about how my sister and her boyfriend lost a bunch of weight after they got the dog they have to walk every day. And about one of the mall walkers that had to cut down on her walking because she had lost too much weight.

For people who are getting less than the recommended amount of activity, adding even a little bit more helps. According to Alpa Patel, PhD, a researcher for the study and also American Cancer Society Strategic Director, Cancer Prevention Study 3, “The greatest benefit is going from doing nothing to doing something, even if it’s less than the minimum recommended amount.”

Citation: Leisure Time Physical Activity and Mortality: A Detailed Pooled Analysis of the Dose-Response Relationship. Published online April 6, 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine. First author Hannah Arem, MHS, PhD. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

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