By Cathe Friedrich
It's important to do regular workouts to build strength and endurance but taking short walks during the day has health benefits too. Recent studies show that sitting too long increases the risk of dying prematurely regardless of whether you exercise an hour or more at the gym each day. When you sit for long periods of time, it increases levels of enzymes involved in fat storage and reduces insulin sensitivity. This increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Moving around also gives your metabolism a boost. That's why it's important to take short walks during the day to reduce your risk of dying early and keep your body from going into hibernation mode.
Other Benefits of Taking a Quick Walk
Leaving your office chair and taking a short walk as often as possible has other benefits as well. Many people say that taking a quick stroll helps to clear their head. There may be some science behind the stress-reducing effect of walking. Research shows that a brief walk, especially one outdoors lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol not only increases with stress, it also mobilizes fat and deposits it on your waist and tummy. Low-intensity exercise helps to lower levels of this waist-expanding hormone.
Taking a quick walk won't burn as many calories as running for 30 minutes on the treadmill, but a 10 minute walk at a moderate pace can burn 50 calories or more. If you take several of these strolls during the day, the calorie burn adds up. Short walks also help boost your energy level when you start to doze off and keeps your joints limber.
How to Make Time for Short Walks During the Day
You may be busy, but finding time to take a quick walk doesn't have to be hard. If you work at an office, use part of your lunch hour for walking or walk during break. If you can't make it outside, stroll up and down the hallway or walk up and down the stairs. Use time on the phone to pace back and forth in your office. Before heading into the office or leaving at the end of the day, walk around the parking lot for 10 minutes.
If you work at home, take the dog or kids for short walks during the day. Walk around the block or stroll up and down the street for 10 minutes at a time. If you go out to run errands, walk up and down the mall without stopping for 10 minutes. Look for every opportunity to slip in a quick walk.
Short Walks Have Benefits
Taking quick walks throughout the day won't necessarily replace a regular exercise program. You need strength training too. But it will help you avoid the dangers of sitting too much, and it can help you lose weight if you do it consistently. You don't have to walk for 30 minutes or more to get health benefits. A quick walk helps you burn more calories, boosts your metabolism and energy level and clears your mind. Take them often.
Eurekalert website. "Study links more time spent sitting to higher risk of death"