If you want to add seven years to your lifespan, set aside 20 to 25 minutes for a daily walk. This simple habit, which can also arguably be one of the most enjoyable parts of your day, has been found to trigger an anti-aging process and even help repair old DNA.
The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60. Those who engaged in daily moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or jog, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and strength training experienced anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.1
The researchers recommended a 20-minute daily walk to reap these benefits, but while I agree a daily walk is a phenomenal health tool, I don’t view it as a form of exercise.
It’s an essential movement that we all require – and you likely need more than 20 minutes of it a day in addition to a regular exercise program. As noted by Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement:2
“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human.”
What Are the Benefits of Regular Walking?
As mentioned, walking may help to slow down the aging process, and it works no matter what age you get started. Study author Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, told The Independent:3
“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”
Part of what makes walking so beneficial is that when you’re walking you can’t be sitting. Sitting for more than eight hours a day is associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, along with increased risks of heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.4
The average American actually spends nine to 10 hours of their day sitting, and certain occupations, such as telecommunications employees, spend an average of 12 hours sitting each day.5
For many years, exercise was promoted as the solution to this largely sedentary lifestyle, but research suggests it can’t counteract the effects of too much sitting. The more you move around and get up out of your chair, the better, and walking is part of this.
Research even shows getting up and walking around for two minutes out of every hour can increase your lifespan by 33 percent, compared to those who do not.6 According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the average person only walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day,7 but aiming for 10,000 steps is a better goal.