Most of us know that walking is good for us but recent research has found a variety of additional benefits, some of which you might not have expected.
It counteracts the effects of weight-gain genes
Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that in study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
It helps tame a sweet tooth
A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. A separate study suggests that walking can reduce cravings and the intake of sugary snacks.
It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer
Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity lowers the risk of breast cancer, but an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. Walking even provided protection for women who were most at risk (such as those who were overweight or using supplemental hormones).
It eases joint pain
Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking 8-10 km a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints – especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis – by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.