While there are places in the world called “blue zones”, where people live longer, up to 100 years, perhaps because of the low prevalence of chronic diseases among them; Life expectancy in the United States has seen its biggest decline since the 1920s, falling in the past two years from 77 to 76.1 years, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Certified nutritionist Caitlin McAfee attributes this decrease to “an increase in the incidence of chronic diseases”; Six in 10 adults in the country suffer from at least one chronic disease, which includes heart disease, diabetes and cancer, compared to 4 in 10 who suffer from two or more diseases.
But Dan Buettner, the best-selling American journalist and author – according to the New York Times classification – argues that the main reason for the longevity of people in the Blue Zones is brisk walking.
Dan Buettner is an Emmy Award-winning documentary producer and adventurous cyclist who traveled the world, breaking 3 Guinness World Records, to explore the secrets of a longer life, before founding Bluezones to help people around the world live healthier and longer. .
Better physical activity for health and longevity
Although many studies “link regular exercise – even small daily movements – with a longer life”; Buettner concluded that brisk walking is the best physical activity for optimal health and longevity. Quoting residents of Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, Sardinia, Italy and other parts of the world, some of whom are 110 years old, “they have a common denominator: brisk walking and activity. intense physical.
He found that regular movement is an integral part of the culture and way of life in Blue Zones, as they move every 20 minutes, and even exploit their surroundings in ways that encourage them to move, according to Buettner.
In this context, the Harvard Medical School website states that “the simple act of walking can do wonders for your health”, as this sport is simple but powerful, and “helps maintain physical fitness, improve cholesterol, strengthen bones, control blood pressure and improve mood”. , and reduce the risk of developing a number of diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
You can walk daily throughout your life
Not only is walking something you can include in your day and easily enjoy, but “because you can keep doing it until your 100th birthday, and maybe beyond,” Buettner says.
Brisk walking exercises all parts of your body, through rapid breathing or sweating, for 5-10 hours per week, and it can provide you with about 90% of the physical activity benefits of marathon training, but with less effort; It solicits more than 100 muscles and improves cognitive functions.
Research has indicated that “doing simple movements throughout the day can build muscle mass that promotes longevity more than doing one hard workout at a time”; He linked walking for just 10 minutes a day to “increased longevity in people aged 85 or older.”
Walking is also a training technique that keeps your heart rate between 60 and 70% of your maximum, “during a period to build cardiovascular endurance”; It’s what certified personal trainer Jonathan Olonade calls “longevity.”
But Buettner warns that by brisk walking he doesn’t mean “running a weekly marathon”, but believes that it’s best not to overdo it, because “exhausting your body with exercise until you feel pain is not a good idea; it can eventually lead to damage to the knees, hips and joints.”
Make the most of walking
To get the most out of walking, Buettner and other experts recommend:
- walk briskly for an hour a day, This is an easily achievable goal; For example, by choosing a café or a restaurant 15 minutes from your work and going back and forth twice a day. Or making sure you walk instead of using the car on weekends.
Or jog for 30-40 minutes every other day, plus two hours on weekends. A study that followed approximately 75,000 runners for 7 years showed that running reduces weight and prevents osteoporosis.
- use your muscles, After man developed using his muscles all the time for walking, jogging, climbing trees and climbing hills, he used elevators and escalators, drove cars instead of walking, s relied on washing machines and dishwashers instead of putting effort into washing dishes and clothes, and buying food instead of growing weary of growing it and using other people to make minor home repairs instead of doing it himself.
So it’s time to use every muscle in the body frequently, because muscles grow and gain strength through exertion and challenge.
- Try walking barefoot on the ground. It may sound strange, but one study found that it “positively affects electrical activity in the brain.”
- Make sure you walk properlyAfter getting fitted with a good pair of walking shoes, be sure to shorten your steps, lean forward slightly, and alternate your arms and legs as you walk, as recommended by yoga instructor Jonathan Fitzgordan ..
- Remember that it is better to walk a little than not to walk. You should try to walk at least 10 minutes a day, which is better than not walking at all, says personal trainer Chris Goldman.
Dietitian Caitlin McAfee also advises, “If you’re not moving enough, let your first goal be to walk 15 minutes each day, while the Harvard Medical School website recommends walking gradually from 15 to 30 to 60 minutes most of the time. days of the week. “
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