This week three health studies have been published about the benefits of walking, exercising outside in cold weather and walking in groups. Yes I know, it’s exactly what we all do – and doesn’t it feel good?!
Yesterday, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study by the University of East Anglia stating that group walking can reduce blood pressure, body fat, weight, resting heart rate and total cholesterol. All of this can reduce the risk of serious health implications like heart disease and stroke. As a Nordic walker I bet you’re feeling pretty pleased to hear this.
The news gets better still. The study also found that those who walked regularly had lower depression levels in comparison to those who were not members of walking groups. So good for the mind as well as the body!
Of course, all this is not new. Studies come out every year about the health benefits of walking and some of our greatest thinkers and philosophers have written insightfully on the subject. Take Kierkegaard, for instance. I quote from a letter he wrote in 1847:
Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it… It is also apparent that in walking one constantly gets as close to well-being as possible, even if one does not quite attain it – but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Health and salvation can only be found in motion.
This leads me neatly on to another study, by Cambridge University and published last week, that 20 minutes of brisk walking a day can cut your risk of premature death by up to a third. The study gave added weight (excuse the pun) to previous research that inactivity is more dangerous to our health than obesity. The study of over 334,000 European men and women found that lack of exercise is responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity.
Finally, given the recent cold snap we’ve just had you might like the study published last week by the University of California about the benefits of exercising in cold weather. Researchers found that cold weather boosts the body’s production of brown fat over its unhealthy cousin, white fat. Brown fat specialises in burning off calories and generates heat as it does so – so you keep warm and get thin. An added incentive (as if you needed one) to come out Nordic walking with us in the bleak mid winter!