The Key to Improved Health: Walking

You don't have to become a gym freak to improve your health. A good, brisk walk does the trick

Over time, rigorous walking can provide the same health benefits as running

If you’re not a fan of exercise, the good news is that simply walking regularly can improve your health

A report a while back from UBC researchers found that Canadians are getting much heavier compared to just two or three decades ago.

In fact, we’re busting out so much that more than 30 per cent of Canadians are now considered obese. Although, if you ask me, that estimate is likely to be on the low side because the researchers worked with data derived from Canadians detailing their own heights and weights. Not that I mean to imply Canadians are liars, but the vast majority of people tend to underestimate their weight and overestimate their height.

That being said, we can all be much better about getting enough regular exercise. And here’s some very good news if you’re interested in doing that: You don’t have to partake in hard or vigorous exercise to improve your health.

Walking is Just as Good as Running

In a study published online in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, researchers compared health outcomes among 33,000 runners and 16,000 walkers over a period of about six years.

The study determined that for all intents and purposes, outcomes for both groups were similar; that is, both runners and walkers (who walked regularly at a moderate pace, not ambling along a beach chatting on a cellphone) had similar improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and risks for diabetes.

That is only true, of course, so long as the walkers spent as much time on their activity as the runners spent on theirs.

Anyway, this is a typical no-brainer for most of us: If you want to improve your health in the simplest manner, walk, don’t run.

After all, walking is social (it’s easy to do with a friend or in a group), it’s cheap (you don’t need any special clothes or gear), you don’t have to stretch or do warm-ups (neither do runners, of course, but they love to think they do) and it’s hard to injure yourself walking. Best of all, you can do it just about anywhere.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.