Walking can tame a sweet tooth and improve your mood among many other benefits.
Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.
For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking can help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.
Harvard Healthbeat reports the following 5 surprising benefits of walking:
- It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
- It helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.
- It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.
- It eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
- It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
Have a checkup before beginning an exercise program. If you have heart problems, your doctor may want to do tests to find out how much activity your heart can safely handle.
Why is your weight important? Extra weight greatly increases joint pain and damages the cartilage of the joints, especially in the hips and knees. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder and it is due to wear and tear on a joint.
There are two ways that being overweight raises your risk for developing osteoarthritis. First, excess weight puts additional stress
People affected by excess weight are more likely to need costly knee or hip surgery and a long period of recovery.
on weight-bearing joints (the knee, for example). Second, inflammatory factors associated with weight gain might contribute to trouble in other joints (for example, the hands). Losing weight can help.
The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance reports the following risks and benefits:
- Together, extra pounds and pain can limit physical activity. This leads to more weight gain and other health problems. This can cause permanent disability and loss of income.
- Joint pain sometimes disrupts sleep, which can make your health worse.
- People affected by excess weight are more likely to need prolonged medical therapy including medications.
- People affected by excess weight are more likely to need costly knee or hip surgery and a long period of recovery.
- Losing weight can help you reduce joint pain, avoid joint surgery and become more active again.
- Even small amounts of weight loss can help.
Managing your weight through a healthy diet and increased physical activity can help you reduce your joint pain. But don’t try to make too many changes at once. It can stop you in your tracks. Instead, pick just one thing you feel ready to focus on for the next few weeks. Choose a goal you believe you can achieve. Then work on it for 6 to 8 weeks to make it stick.
Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people, reports Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat.
The best source for vitamin B12 is animal-based foods like meat, eggs, milk and cheese, as well as supplements.
A severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more. The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, and DNA, and to carry out other functions. Like most vitamins, B12 can’t be made by the body. Instead, it must be gotten from food or supplements. The risk of B12 deficiency increases with age.
The best sources of this important vitamin is animal-based foods including meat, milk, cheese and eggs, as well as supplements, reports WebMD.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are slow to develop and intensify gradually. Symptoms may include:
- Strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- Difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- A swollen, inflamed tongue
- Yellowed skin (jaundice)
- Difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
- Paranoia or hallucinations
If you think you might have a deficiency, see your doctor. A blood test will confirm the condition.