Byte of Prevention Blog

by Will Graebe |

Put One Foot in Front of the Other for Better Health

When we think of physical exercise to improve our health, we often think of going to the gym, heading out for a run, attending a cardio class, or taking a long bike ride. All these activities are great ways to get beneficial exercise. But did you know that walking also offers enormous physical and mental health benefits. A new meta-analysis study of walking found that the health benefits of walking start at just 3,967 steps per day to reduce all cause mortality and 2,337 steps per day to lower the risk of cardiovascular mortality. For most people, one mile of walking is 2,000 to 2,500 steps. So, walking a mile a day will improve your heart health, and walking 2 or more miles a day will reduce all-cause mortality.

Beyond these minimum levels, the study found that a person can increase the benefits of walking by adding steps. The study found that every 1,000 steps added resulted in an additional 15% reduction in all-cause mortality. In other words, the more steps the better.

Walking may also benefit brain health and reduce the risk of dementia. A study published by JAMA Neurology found that people who walked about 5 miles a day were 51% less likely to develop dementia. People who walked about 2 miles a day were 25% less likely to develop dementia.

For an added benefit, try taking your walks into the woods. Just being outside in nature has been shown to have positive mental health effects. In a study conducted in Japan, one group of participants walked through a remote forest area. Another group walked through an urban center. The researchers took tests before and after the walk to measure the participants’ heart rates, stress, and anxiety levels. The participants who had walked through the forest had lower heart rates and less anxiety and stress than those who walked through the urban center. In a similar study where one group of participants walked in a metropolitan area and another group walked in a natural setting, those who walked in the natural environment reported decreased rumination after the walk. Rumination is associated with the onset of depression and anxiety. Other studies have shown that nature can relieve attention fatigue and increase creativity. So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed by work, relationship conflict, or financial pressures, go outside for a walk and get a dose of nature.

Rather than overhauling a fitness routine or thinking that extreme measures are needed for optimal health, think in terms of adding in a lunchtime walk. Take a few laps around your office building or home neighborhood.  These small, extra steps are valuable tweaks to enhance brain function and longevity.

About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

Read More by Will >

Related Posts