“We were made to walk,” The lead says. “You can’t say enough about its benefits.” Think “hiking” as you read these seven reasons:
1. Build a bigger, sharper brain. “Walking definitely affects the brains of adults in their 60s, 70s and 80s,” says University of Illinois Psychologist Arthur Kramer. Studies that track people’s behavior for years see healthier brains in more active people.
2. Live longer. “Americans typically spend two-thirds of their day sitting,” says epidemiologist Charles Matthews of the National Cancer Institute. That’s equivalent to two full-time jobs every week.
3. Ease your aching knees. “Mobility is really key as we age,” says Steven Messier. “When you lose your mobility, you lose your independence and things can go downhill pretty quickly.” Messier directs the J.B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University.
4. Improve your mood. “Walking for exercise can help people who have been diagnosed with mild or moderate depression as much as drugs or psychotherapy sessions,” says exercise psychologist Panteleimon Ekkekakis.
5. Lower your risk of cancer. “People who are more physically active, including those who walk for exercise, are less likely to develop one of the major cancers,” says researcher Christine Friedenreich of the University of Calgary in Canada.
6. Strengthen your heart. “A large number of epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated that regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, sudden cardiac death, atrial fibrillation, and congestive heart failure,” says Howard Sesso, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
7. Dodge diabetes. “If people don’t stay physically active as they get older, their muscles become insulin resistant,” says Loretta DiPietro. That mean their insulin does a poor job of moving blood sugar into their muscle cells.