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Walking, the simplest and most beneficial exercise there is

June 20, 2021
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Walking, the simplest and most beneficial exercise there is

It helps maintain body weight, counteracts abdominal fat, lowers inflammation, stimulates the defenses, especially those of the airways, protects the heart and reduces the risk of cellular degeneration, brings a good mood

Gymnastics, running, swimming, we have at our disposal a multitude of different types of physical activity, all equally beneficial. However, sometimes, we forget that there is also a very simple physical activity, beneficial for all and within everyone's reach, walking. Walking is a natural anti-aging and fat burner and protects heart, lung and brain health.

Walking and visceral fat

Walking for more than 30 minutes at a brisk pace improves insulin resistance and counteracts both subcutaneous and more dangerous visceral fat (Hong et al, J Exerc Nutrition Biochem, 2014). In fact, visceral fat, the classic pot belly, is not inert but secretes inflammatory substances and hormones, increasing the levels of chronic inflammation and opening the way, in the long term, to an increased cardiovascular risk and degeneration.

Walking, immune system and anticancer action

Walking reduces the levels of chronic inflammation (Zhao et al, J Epidemiol, 2015). This has an impact on the body's defenses since, in the long run, inflammation can weaken the immune system. A walk of at least 30 minutes has been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting flu and respiratory tract infections by 43% in autumn and winter (Nieman et al, BMJ, 2011). Not only that, it has also been observed that the more time you spend walking, the more you reduce a substance in the blood called IGF 1, or insulin like growth factor, which, according to research, stimulates the development of tumors, especially in the prostate, breast and colon (Smith et al, MBJ, 2000). Hence, walking also helps to counteract some types of cellular degeneration. Finally, it is important to never overdo the physical effort. In fact, a brisk walk and, in general, moderate physical activity, stimulate the immune system while a very intense and tiring activity, especially if repeated and prolonged over time for more than 90 minutes, stresses the body and lowers the defenses (from Silveira et al, Clin Exp Med, 2020).

Walking and heart

Walking protects the heart. It was observed that, among adults diagnosed with diabetes, walking two hours a day led to a 34% reduction in mortality related to cardiovascular events (Diehr et al, J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci., 2010). Walking, in fact, helps to keep body weight under control, reduces the accumulation of fat and cholesterol and helps to lower blood pressure, all factors that contribute to increasing cardiovascular risk (Zhao et al, J Epidemiol, 2015).

Walking and mood

Walking also has a beneficial effect on mood. In fact, this type of physical activity reduces anxiety and the risk of developing depression (Sharma et al, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry., 2006). It is believed that this beneficial effect is due to the increase in blood flow to the brain and a possible impact of physical activity on the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis and therefore on the body's response to stress (Sharma et al, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry., 2006).

30 minutes a day even in small sessions

To benefit from walking this should last at least 30 minutes. But does it have to be performed in a single session or also in many small sessions throughout the day? To answer this question, a scientific study was performed (Serwe et al, J Womens Health, 2011 - Zhao et al, J Epidemiol, 2015) which compared the effects of walking in a single 30-minute session for 5 days a week for 6 weeks or in small 10-minute mini sessions distributed throughout the day, arriving in the evening with at least 30 minutes of physical activity carried out. What emerged was that the mini sessions led to a reduction in blood pressure. However, those who had walked in a single session also showed, as an additional benefit, a decrease in the waistline and better physical performance. In fact, at the end of the experiment, the participants were asked to undergo the 6MWT, or 6 minute walking test. This test measures the distance that a person can travel on a flat surface, in a period of 6 minutes and then evaluates the response of all the systems involved, from the muscular and articular systems to the respiratory one. Well, those who had performed the walk in a single session had better results in this test than those who had instead performed mini sessions, it is believed because a single session encourages you to walk more and more quickly than a split activity.

Therefore, walk, always walk, even for small daily sessions, remembering however to arrive at, at least, 30 minutes of total daily physical activity and that, in any case, walking continuously seems to bring some more benefits.

The app helps you

So, walk! At a brisk pace but without exaggerating, so that physical activity is always pleasant and, you know, if you like something it quickly becomes an integral part of your lifestyle. The Natural Remedies app helps you keep fit thanks to the integrated step counter, which also helps you keep track of your activity over time, counting steps, time spent, kilometers traveled and calories consumed.

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