The study followed 248 volunteers aged 86 years on average for a period of two years. Although twelve percent of the volunteers died throughout the study, those that did not walk regularly (less than one hour per day) died at a rate of more than 30% higher than the regular walkers. Wow! Additionally, the walkers suffered less from depression and cognitive impairment, had less heart disease and high blood pressure, and had less debility from osteoarthritis. Double wow!
Well, of course, this is no surprise to me. I incessantly push the idea that regular physical fitness is paramount to not only a long life, but to one of high quality as well. I call walking the universal exercise because it’s the one that all cultures engage in to some degree. In my neighborhood you can see the Russian community out every night enjoying their after-dinner walks. It’s beautiful! And my wife and I take walks with our daughter and doggies every chance we get.
As I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, walking is the best exercise for obese people, the elderly or people who haven’t exercised in a while or are trying to solve a pain issue. But mind you, the walk must challenge you. It doesn’t have to knock you out, but you should break into a moderate sweat, otherwise you are not doing much. And note, the study saw health benefits and longevity in those who walked for an hour or more every day. Do I think you need to walk for an hour every day? No…but how about twenty minutes? Or a half hour? Just make sure you’re breaking a little sweat by the end of the walk. I guarantee that if you walk 3-4 times a week for the next three months, you’ll have no problem–neither in motivation nor ability–to extend the walking in both length and frequency. Happy walking.