The Duke University Medical Center found that a brisk 30-minute walk or jog around a track three times a week was just as effective as antidepressant medication in relieving the symptoms of major depression in middle-aged and elderly people.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last year showed that older women who walked regularly were less likely to develop memory loss and other declines in mental function than women who were less active. Those who walked 18 miles or more per week fared best.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, walking helps you maintain a positive outlook, and can make you look and feel younger.
Walking increases the blood flow to the brain. A 1999 study of people over 60 found that walking 45 minutes a day at a 16-minute mile pace increased their thinking skills.
The Mayo Clinic also has evidence that exercise positively affects the levels of certain mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Exercise may also boost feel-good endorphins, release tension in muscles, help you sleep better and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Get a better body
Walking one mile a day burns 100 calories. You could lose ten pounds in a year without changing your eating habits.
The experts agree, walk 6,000 steps a day to improve your health, and 10,000 to lose weight.
A University of Tennessee in Knoxville study with pedometers revealed that women who averaged more than 10,000 steps a day had 40% less body fat and waist and hip measurements that were four to six inches narrower than those who averaged fewer than 6,000 steps.
If you add just 2,000 more steps a day to your regular activities, you may never gain another pound. So says research by Dr. James O. Hill of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
A recent Harvard study shows that walking at a moderate pace (3mph) for up to 3 hours a week — or 30 minutes a day — can cut the risk of heart disease in women by as much as 40%.
The October 20, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that one hour of brisk walking every day can cut a woman's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in half.
The Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who walk in their 30s and 40s can greatly reduce their risk of breast cancer.
If you walk regularly (3 or more times a week for a half hour or more) you are saving $330 a year in health care costs, according to a survey published in the October, 2000 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine.
Get a greener planet
Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
The 1995 National Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) found that approximately 40% of all car trips are less than 2 miles in length — which represents a 10-minute bike ride or less than 40-minutes of walking. Also, since "cold starts" create high levels of emissions, shorter car trips are more polluting on a per-mile basis than longer trips.
The cost of operating a car for one year is approximately $5,170. The cost of operating a bicycle for a year is only $120. Walking is free!
An average city block is equivalent to 200 steps.
One mile is about 2,000 steps, or a 20-minute walk.
In your lifetime you will walk about 65,000 miles — that's three times around the earth!
A study of Amish adults by Novartis Nutrition found that men take an average of 18,425 steps a day and women take 14,196. Compare that to about 4,000 steps for the average American adult and it is easy to see why only 4% of Amish adults are obese, versus 31% of the general population.
Eric from Burbank walked 40 miles through Los Angeles to celebrate his 40th birthday. He raised $10,603 to benefit Outward Bound.
Over a two year period Caleb Smith walked every street on the island of Manhattan. Yes, every darn street, and he lived to blog about it. Check out the interactive map of his favorite streets and routes in New York City.