Researchers have found that walking for just 20 minutes a day five days per week can help reduce the risk of developing not only type 2 diabetes, heart disease, but also high blood pressure. In fact, a recent study from the University of Bristol found that walking just 20-minute walk a day can burn as many calories as running for the same time period. That’s why walking in a short time each day can have great health benefits.
To begin with, it helps improve your cardiovascular health and reduces stress by lowering your blood pressure and improving your lipid profile. It also improves your body image and self-esteem, reduces anxiety and depression, and increases serotonin levels in the brain to improve your mood.
10 excellent reasons to take a 20-minute walk
1. Reduce the Risk of Stress
Everyone suffers from stress at some point in their lives. It is normal, but you need to find ways to relieve stress when it happens. Stress is not only bad for your mental health but also for your physical health. When you are stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol to give you the energy to deal with a threat. However, when stressors remain and don’t go away, your body remains in fight-or-flight mode. This means that the production of cortisol stays high and this is when stress has negative consequences on your body.
A study at Oregon State University discovered that men with persistently either high or moderate levels of stressful life events over a few years had a 50 percent higher mortality rate than those with less stressful events. The more stress people endure, the higher their mortality risk, according to the findings of a subsequent study of over 118,000 men and women. A simple 20-minute walk may counteract the adverse effects of stress, particularly if you take a walk in nature. A walk in nature without using a either phone or engaging in social media resulted in lower cortisol levels, as discovered by researchers at the University of Michigan.
2. Enjoy Longer Life
Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to keep your body active and healthy. It doesn’t require either special equipment or expertise, and it can be done almost anywhere — no gym membership required. In fact, a new study found that regular walking may add up to nine years to your life.
Making time for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day is widely recommended as a means of improving cardiovascular health, reducing risks for diabetes, hypertension, and stroke, and possibly extending life expectancy. But what if you could get even more benefits from walking?
Conducting a meta-analysis involving more than 200,000 participants across 19 studies, researchers found that adding 20-minute walk five times per week extended life expectancy by an impressive two years compared to standard guidelines.
3. Reduce Your Risk of Depression
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is one of the leading causes of disease around the world. It’s also one of the most common mental health disorders. In fact, in any given year, as many as one in six adults will experience depression.
Unfortunately, this number is only growing. As stressors increase and natural habitats decrease, it’s no wonder that more people are developing depression. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce your risk of developing this debilitating illness.
If you’re looking for a simple way to reduce your risk of developing depression, try taking a 20-minute walk every day. Research shows that walking can have a measurable impact on your mental health and cut your risk of developing a depressive disorder by almost 30 percent.
4. Improve Your Thinking
Thinking is not something we just do once and that’s it. Thinking is an ongoing process, one that needs to be practiced, nurtured and developed. The benefits of thinking are undeniable and countless studies have shown the impact it has on our lives. If you feel like your thinking has plateaued or even reduced over the past few years then this article is for you.
The ability to think critically, analytically, and creatively can open up new opportunities in life. Thinking positively, skeptically, and practically can help us achieve our goals faster than before. However, with so many activities competing for our attention these days, it can be challenging to find time to think regularly.
If you want to improve your thinking in either 20-minute walk or any other limited time period.
The study divided participants into four groups for a six-month period:
- Group 1: people who started the DASH diet but didn’t alter their workout routine.
- Group 2: People who walked or cycled for 35 minutes a day, but didn’t exercise.
- Group 3: Individuals who followed the DASH diet and worked out three times a week.
- Group 4: The control group was those who did not alter their diet or exercise habits.
The group that only exercised showed significantly greater improvements in cognitive thinking after 6 months than the group that did not exercise. The group that followed the diet only did not show a significant improvement, but the group that combined diet and exercise showed the greatest benefit.
5. Boost Your Mood
A bad mood can creep up on anyone, but it’s important not to let it take over your day. When you’re feeling blue, it’s important to look for ways to pick yourself up. It is also essential to have strategies in place for future bad moods so that they don’t have the ability to impact your life so much. A 20-minute walk is a great strategy for boosting not only your mood, bu also combating negative thoughts.
A walk outdoors has many benefits, not just because it gets you moving and sweating, but also because of the natural light and fresh air it brings into your life.
One group of college students was assigned to walk across campus while the other group watched a video or browsed photos, and afterwards they reported various emotions and physical sensations. Those who watched a video or browsed photos reported both lower mood and less attentiveness.
Mood was boosted even though students knew they must write an essay after completing a walking tour in the second experiment.
Walking on a treadmill still resulted in mood-boosting benefits in the third study.
6. Walking Reduce Risk of Heart Failure
Recognize it as a serious condition, not just either weakness or sign of old age. Build up to 20-minute walk three times a week. It’s that simple, but many people with coronary artery disease don’t take the risk seriously enough.
People in their 40s and 50s with risk factors for heart failure are more likely to die from it than from any other cardiovascular disease. Yet many either ignore the danger or view it as something that will only happen to them when they are much older. That attitude is potentially fatal. Heart failure is an accumulation of smaller risks, which combined can prove lethal if ignored.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart failure affects close to six million Americans. Every year, about half of those affected die. According to a 2015 study conducted by researchers from Stockholm, walking for about 20 minutes every day may help keep you alive. Those who walked or cycled for 20-minute walk every day had a 21 percent lower risk of developing heart failure for the first time.
7. Improve blood sugar control, while reducing the risk for Type 2 Diabetes
When you walk, your muscles need glucose (from carbohydrates) and fat for energy. But the body can only store so much glucose in the liver and muscles. When it's depleted, the body turns to another source for energy: fat.
Reducing blood sugar levels is a primary target for people with either Type 2 Diabetes or those at risk for developing it. Moderate-intensity walking significantly lowers blood sugar levels after eating a meal by increasing insulin sensitivity, which prevents excess sugar from being stored as fat in the body.
Walking fast does not have the same benefits as walking moderately because fast walking places more stress on your heart and leads to a spike in adrenaline that increases glucagon production, leading to an increase in glycogenolysis (the breakdown of glycogen into glucose).
According to the CDC, 30 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10 individuals). 90-95% of those with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs after the age of 45. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that an estimated 23.1 million individuals have diabetes, while another 1.5 million are diagnosed every year.
Even a short run is sufficient to prevent blood glucose from rising substantially, comparable to the effects of medication for elevated blood glucose levels.
Researchers discovered in a 2017 study that post-meal exercise was more efficient at lowering blood glucose than once-daily exercise in people with type 2 diabetes.
8. Boost Energy
You probably know that exercise is good for you, but it might not always feel that way. It can be really challenging to squeeze in that either gym session or go for a run after work. But there are ways to get your body moving and boost your energy, even with minimal time and resources.
Armed with just 20 minutes of walking, you can increase your energy and burn calories. Walking is a great exercise because it’s something most people can do almost anywhere at any time. All you need is somewhere safe to walk and a pair of comfortable shoes.
9. Help You Exercise More
Walking every day may become easier if you begin right now, and walking for longer durations may even be healthier. Blood pressure and weight loss are two perks of walking more frequently. If you want to include exercise in your lifestyle but have struggled to do so, start with a 10-minute walk. According to a 2011 study, a little bit of exercise each day is sufficient to prompt gradual increases in exercise.
In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to lose track of your goals. Even if you make exercise a priority, fitting it into your busy schedule can be difficult. But with the right tools and techniques, you can get more active in less time.
With just 20 minutes of walking every day, you can increase your physical activity and improve your health. The best part is that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym or set aside special time to get in more activity—simply making small changes to your routine will help.
By following these simple tips, you can increase the amount of exercise in your day and make it easier to achieve your goals.
10. Boost Your Creativity
Creativity is a funny thing. Sometimes we’re bursting with ideas, and other times we feel like we have nothing left to give. Creativity isn't something you can turn on or off at will - it comes when you least expect it, and only then. However, there are ways to increase our creative thinking and open up new ideas whenever we need them. Exploring either new environments, getting out of the office, or simply walking in nature could be just what you need to uncover your next great idea.
There’s a good reason why so many famous writers, artists and thinkers were inspired by walks in the woods or a day trip to the beach—regularly exploring new places can spark creative thinking by opening your mind to new experiences and sights you wouldn’t normally see every day.
Walking boosts creative inspiration, according to Stanford researchers. To test this theory, participants were divided into four groups. Each group either walked on a treadmill, sat facing a blank wall, or sat outdoors. After each experiment, the participants completed creativity tests.