Health + Wellness

Can Brisk Walking Help One Lose Weight?

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A long term study found that people who enjoyed a 30-minute brisk walk most days had the smallest waists and lowest body mass indexes.

According to the study, it was discovered that brisk walking is better than gym exercise and other forms of sports for losing weight. Brisk walking was in fact associated with being thinner, especially for people who are 50 and older.

In many countries as well as Singapore, health authorities recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity at moderate intensity for health and weight management. And according to the study’s data collected in the annual Health Survey for England (HSE) from 1999 to 2012 from more than 68,000 respondents, the researchers found out that brisk walking was the winner, with graphs of the data showing a consistent reduction of weight correlating with the number of days of brisk walking monthly.

The exercise categories in the health survey were:

  • Walking at a fast or brisk pace
  • Sports such as swimming, cycling, gym, jogging, football, and racquet sports.
  • Heavy housework
  • Heavy manual activities

But how much of a difference can brisk walking make in comparison to other forms of exercise? Using measurements based on body mass index (BMI) – ratio of height to weight, researcher Dr. Grace Lordan a specialist in health economics at the London School of Economics says the difference can be almost twice as great (1.8 units for walking and 1 unit for gym exercising). There’s also a measurement of waist circumference, with a wider waist showing central obesity, which is associated with developing health problems independently of BMI. Brisk walking in that aspect is also proven to reduce waist size (4.3 centimetres or more than one dress size smaller). This discovery holds true for women who walk five times per week for 30 minutes in comparison to the average person.

The question on everyone’s mind right now would be, “Why would walking be more effective than spending time in the gym?” Dr Grace postulates that walkers may be more faithful to their routine over time, as it can be harder to know how much one’s time is spent in the gym working out in a moderately-intense manner and whether the exercises are being performed correctly. Walking is much easier to get right, can be done anywhere, and to know when one is breathing harder and working up a sweat or not.

But Who benefits The Most From Brisk Walking?

  • Women
  • People over the age of 50 (regardless of gender)

Dr Grace, concluded in her study, “Recommending that people walk briskly is a cheap and easy policy option. Additionally, there is no monetary cost to walking so it is very likely that the benefits will outweigh the costs. A simple policy that ‘every step counts’ may be a step towards curbing the upward trend in obesity rates and beneficial for other health conditions.”

 

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