Evans says that he is often asked what the single best thing is that people can do to improve their health. He decided to answer the question in video format, and his video was so informative and engaging that it went viral! Evans says that walking for thirty minutes a day is the best thing people can do to keep themselves healthy. I think his answer really underscores the importance and impressive benefits of low intensity movement.Evans cites some impressive figures in his video. I understood that moving at a low intensity can be very health promoting, but even my high expectations were surpassed by some of the studies Evans references. It turns out that...
- Patients with knee arthritis who walked for three hours a week reduced their levels of pain and disability by 47%
- In older patients walking reduced progression to dementia and Alzheimer?s by around 50%
- For patients in high risk of diabetes when coupled with other lifestyle interventions, walking reduced progression to frank diabetes by 58%
- Post menopausal women who walked four hours a week had a 41% reduction on the risk of hip fracture
- One big meta analysis found that walking reduced anxiety by 48%
- 30% of patients suffering from depression were relieved by a small amount of walking, and 47% were relieved when the patients increased that amount of time spend walking
- In one nurse's health study, when woman started walking just an hour a week, their risk of heart disease was nearly cut by 50%
- Following over 10,000 Harvard alumni for over 12 years, the people who walked had a 23% lower mortality rate than the people who did not walk
- Walking is the most effective treatment for fatigue
Evans also makes the important point that cardio respiratory fitness is the most important predictor of death. He reached this conclusion from Steven Blair's work, who is a professor at the University of South Carolina. Blair took data from the over 50,000 person Aerobic Centre Longitudinal Study and found that a low level of cardio respiratory fitness was the biggest predictor for mortality.
Although dying at a much lower rate is a great benefit of doing some type of low level movement like walking, the improvement in quality of life is very evident as well. Decreased disease rates, increased mobility, improved mood, decreased worry, etc. are all amazing benefits that should not be scoffed at. If there were any drug that was as effective as a thirty minute daily walk it would be worth more money than I can even imagine. Seeing as no such thing currently exists, it is wise to find a form of low level movement that is enjoyable for you.
I think looking at the opportunity cost of walking is important when reading these statistics. If the people were not walking, they would most likely be doing something sedentary. By now it is well known that spending too much time sitting is not likely to bode well for one's health. So while walking surely is wonderful for a person's well being, at least a small part of that benefit is simply spending less time on the sofa.