Published on 1st October 2017


Walking for less than the minimum recommended level is still better for us than physical inactivity, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.1

A team of US researchers found that walking as the sole form of activity for less than two hours per week was associated with lower all-cause mortality (i.e. a lower risk of death) compared with physical inactivity. Meeting or exceeding the minimum recommendations was associated with a further risk reduction. The team looked at data from almost 140,000 participants from a large US prospective cohort study.

The study showed that “walking-only” was most strongly associated with respiratory disease mortality, with an approximate 35 per cent lower risk, when comparing data for those who walked for more than six hours per week to those in the least active group. Walking-only was also associated with approximately 20 per cent and nine per cent less risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality, respectively.2

According to NHS guidelines, adults aged 19-64 should aim to do: at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (e.g. cycling or brisk walking) every week; and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).3  

Lead investigator of the study, Alpa Patel, said: "Walking has been described as the perfect exercise because it is simple, free, convenient, doesn't require any special equipment or training, and can be done at any age.

"With the near doubling of adults aged 65 and older expected by 2030, clinicians should encourage patients to walk even if less than the recommended amount, especially as they age, for health and longevity."

The news has to be an added incentive to get outdoors, even though it can be tempting to stay indoors as the air turns cold and the nights draw in. An autumn stroll through the fallen leaves or an invigorating winter walk can make us feel good – physically and mentally. Just wrap up warm, put on some sensible shoes, and stock up on hot chocolate for when you get back.


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  1. Patel AV et al (2017). Walking in relation to mortality in a large prospective cohort of older US adults. Am J of Preventive Med [Online ahead of print].