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Add Up To Seven Years To Your Life: Just Start Walking

Add Up To Seven Years To Your Life: Just Start Walking

Expert Proclaims Walking A "Really Powerful Medicine"

SILVER SPRING, MD – December 10, 2013 – While the weight loss benefits from exercise may be obvious, many people might be surprised to find out that brisk walking can add as much as seven years to your life! And, recent stories by the Daily Mail, Associated Press, USA Today, and BBC News have reported on the astounding health benefits of brisk walking, as little as 150 minutes a week.

Representatives from Harvard University and the U.S. government’s medical research agency analyzed the results of six previous studies into health and lifestyle.  Their findings were eye-opening!

The most significant benefits to exercise were enjoyed by people of a healthy weight.  With two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week, such as brisk walking, they extended their lives by more than seven years, according to the findings of the U.S. study.

“We must not underestimate how important physical activity is for health – even modest amounts can add years to your life,” said Dr. I-Min Lee, a senior author of the U.S. study.

During an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Oscar Franco, a researcher at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said “Three years of extra life: It’s a very clear message that makes it easy to grasp what might be the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.”  Dr. Franco co-authored one of the studies on the benefits of walking.

Richard Cotton of the American College of Sports Medicine notes that walking is probably the most convenient form of physical activity available to the general public.  “You can walk wherever you are, even if it's just walking in place in your house or taking the stairs more," Cotton told USA Today’s Nanci Helmich.

In that same USA Today article, Miriam Nelson, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, stated that "walking is really powerful medicine.”

In the U.S., federal physical activity guidelines indicate that people need 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week to stay healthy.  Brisk walking is an example of a moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

“Right now, research from the Physical Activity Council indicates 114 million Americans are walking for fitness. This is America’s #1 activity. There are more than 50 other sports or activities Americans can participate in which can have similar benefits,” said PHIT America founder Jim Baugh. “If Americans want to live longer or just become more healthy, we must increase activity and fitness levels.”

PHIT America has made it easy for Americans to find a place to start or participate in more than 50 different sports or fitness activities. Just go to PHITAmerica.org and click on ‘Participate’ in order to find a location of a program in your area.

Dr. Roland Gutierrez, a pediatrician in Jupiter, Florida, is a strong proponent of exercise as a way to stay healthy.  “Walking is great exercise for my young patients and their parents.  America’s inactivity pandemic is going to bankrupt this country because of rising health care costs, unless we start exercising,” said Gutierrez.  “If we continue to ignore the inactivity issue, we are guilty of committing genocide on future generations.  Getting this country walking is a huge step in the right direction for reducing health care costs.”

The main source for the BBC News story – by James Gallagher -- was the Walking Works report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support which points out that walking has the potential of transforming a person’s health.
"We're facing a serious crisis of inactivity, but there is a simple solution,” said Benedict Southworth, chief executive of the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support.  "We need to see greater investment in initiatives which support and promote walking as the most accessible and affordable way for people to get active."

One of the conclusions of Walking Works is that if everybody who lives in England made a commitment to at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical exercise -- such as walking -- the results would be overwhelming.  That kind of national commitment to exercise (in England) could save 37,000 lives a year, prevent nearly 7,000 annual cases of breast cancer, eliminate nearly 5,000 annual cases of colorectal cancer, and result in roughly 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes a year.

"Inactivity increases the risk of serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers,” said Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England to BBC News.  “Supporting people to get active through walking can be a major part of the solution."  Fenton is strongly convinced that inactivity has “life threatening consequences.”

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