5. Moderate Walking May Help Preserve Memory
The loss of brain mass that begins in our 20s accelerates in late adulthood and can create memory problems for the elderly. A 2010 University of Pittsburgh study, however, found that elderly people who walked roughly six to nine miles a week had more gray matter volume than people who didn’t walk as much. At the end of the 13-year study, those who walked the most reduced their risk of memory problems by one half.
4. Walking Can Save Money on Medication
Dr. Paul Williams, with the Donner Laboratory in Berkley, California, conducted a study involving more than 40,000 walkers obtained from a walking magazine’s subscriber list. Granted, this didn’t provide a representative sample of the population, but his findings were still quite interesting. His study, referred to as the National Walkers’ Health Study, found that men and women who walked 5 to 14 kilometers — roughly three to nine miles — per week significantly lowered their use of anti-diabetic, high-blood pressure and cholesterol medications. Those who walked proportionally more per week registered even greater benefits. All good news, given the cost of medications these days.
3. Walking Could Reduce Snoring Problems
This might sound like an obvious statement — regular walking can lead to weight loss, and excess weight is one of the most common causes of snoring. But there may be more to this connection. Douglas Bradley, director of the Toronto Research Institute’s Sleep Research Laboratory, told the New York Post that when people sit for extended periods, fluid gathers in the lower extremities. When you lie down, that fluid moves to your neck. When your muscles relax, the fluid can restrict your airway. Bradley recommends getting up periodically for a short walk.
2. Walking Could Help Battle Depression
Many studies through the years have found that exercise is part of an effective treatment for depression. Yet even moderate exercise, such as walking, can have a positive impact. Research published in the June 2012 issue of Mental Health and Physical Activity found that “Walking has a statistically significant, large effect on the symptoms of depression in some populations.”
1. Walking May Reduce the Risk of Cancer, Improve Survival Rate
A long-term study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute found that women who walked briskly for about an hour most days of the week reduced their risk of developing breast cancer. The study analyzed data from more than 95,000 women over a 20-year period, and found that dedicated walkers showed a 15 percent less chance of developing breast cancer. Further underlining the importance of walking, women in the study who played tennis, ran and did other more strenuous activities also showed a reduced risk of cancer, but it wasn’t as significant as the decline shown by dedicated walkers. Another prominent study, presented in 2004 by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University, found that a regular walking routine could dramatically reduce the risk of death for women diagnosed with and being treated for stages I, II or III breast cancer. Those who walked three to five hours per week lowered their risk of death by 54 percent.
The author has been a dedicated walker for more than a decade.