Created by health experts, one guideline for optimum health for adults is to participate in 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. (This would include brisk walking.) A new study, however, surprisingly shows that walking, even less than the recommended amount, can still help lower a person’s mortality risk. And autumn is a perfect time to start your walking program!

Don’t Fall Behind!

Just because the days are getting shorter doesn’t mean you can’t find some daylight time to put in some walking. It’s an ideal time of year to get into a groove, especially because the big eating holidays are encroaching upon us. It’s well known that most people overeat during the months of November and December. Walking, even 30 minutes per day, not only meets the guideline goal—but, actually exceeds it!
Calculating your daily steps can help you with your program. But, if you are one to stress out easily, take an invisible chill pill. Just know that even if you only get in 5,000 steps, you are doing something beneficial. The study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that those who walked minimally still had a higher mortality rate than those who remained sedentary.

Where Do You Fall on The Chart?

As mentioned, the guidelines suggest 150 minutes (that’s 2 and-a-half hours total) per week of moderate movement. That could include walking, dancing, light jogging, easy cycling, etc. Or, another alternate for optimum health is 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Unfortunately, only about half of adults meet either of those guideline criteria.
The study included 140,000 participants over the age of 65. The theme of the study was to collect data for cancer prevention. Ninety-five percent of the participants engaged in walking. They all fared better than the five percent that did no activity.
Those who walked 2 ½ to 5 hours per week showed a 20% lower mortality rate along with a 20% lower risk of heart disease, and a 9% lower risk of cancer death; those who walked more than 6 hours per week showed up to a 35% percent lower mortality risk from respiratory disease.

When to Walk

The weather in autumn is pretty optimum for nice walks. If you can fit your brisk activity in during daylight hours, that is always the safer option. Here are some safety tips should you need to do your walking in the dark:

  • walk with one or more persons
  • use paths or the sidewalk; don’t walk in the street
  • don’t walk in deserted areas; use well-lit, busier routes
  • bring your phone, but don’t be on it; leave your headphones at home—you want to be aware of your surroundings, look alert, and walk purposefully
  • wear a headlamp or bring a small flashlight; you don’t want to trip; you also want others to see you coming
  • walk on the side of the street facing traffic
  • wear reflectors or some type of reflective gear
  • bring water if you plan to be out for a while

Again, your evening hikes don’t need to be lengthy. Just try to get some walking time in each day. You can always walk longer on the weekend when you have more daylight time available. Happy trails!
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