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Walk your way to fitness

When was the last time you went for a walk? As most of us have a sedentary lifestyle and stay glued to our desks, we miss life’s little pleasures like a refreshing walk in the fresh air. An hour-long brisk walk can prove a boon for those battling the bulges.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 19, 2012 00:26 IST

When was the last time you went for a walk? As most of us have a sedentary lifestyle and stay glued to our desks, we miss life’s little pleasures like a refreshing walk in the fresh air. An hour-long brisk walk can prove a boon for those battling the bulges, says a new study. If you walk everyday for an hour, you reduce the risk of becoming obese by half, scientists have found.

Scientists believe walking can reduce the influence of genes thought to cause obesity by 50%, the Daily Express reported.

The conclusions were reached after a study of 10,000 people with a genetic disposition to obesity by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA.

“In our study, a brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in body mass index, by half,” said lead researcher Qibin Qi. But those who love slugging on the sofa watching TV for four hours a day see their genetic risk of obesity increase by 50%, the researchers warned.

Apart from cutting down the risk of obesity, walking also has numerous other health benefits. “Walking is one of the easiest and the most natural form of exercise, and can do wonders for those who live a sedentary lifestyle,” says health expert Prachi Agarwal, Fitho, a health consultancy firm. He lists out benefits of brisk walking:

Why you must walk
Walking helps release happy hormones in your system. Regular walking can help combat stress, depression and anxiety.

Those who walk regularly are able to maintain strong muscles in the body without indulging in any rigorous work out routine. Regular walkers also do not face joint-related problems such as pain and swelling in the knees, ankles, etc.

Walking also keeps your heart healthy. It helps bring down your blood pressure effectively and also leads to an increase in the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and reduction of LDL (bad cholesterol).

Regular walking also helps boost up your stamina, and it also strengthens your immune system.

Make walking more fun
* You can make walking a lot more fun by building your own walking group. Chalk out a daily walking routine and ask your friends to join. You could also ask your spouse or a neighbour to join you.
* Make it a habit to take your pet out for a walk daily. Pets make for great walking buddies.
* Carry your iPod and listen to your favourite music while walking
* You can’t enjoy walking unless you’re dressed comfortably. Tight clothes can lead to excessive sweating and also make you tired. Wear loose cotton cloth and comfortable shoes. Stick to cotton socks.
* Do not take the same route to walk everyday. Look for scenic routes to make walking more fun.