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The most efficient exercise for keeping the weight off might surprise you…

November 5th 2015 / Anna Hunter


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Cancel the zany, bootcamp style workout. A new study shows that a very simple daily activity is in fact the key to maintaining a healthy weight, and losing any surplus pounds

If you regularly punish yourself or your bank account with high maintenance fitness habits, we’re about to give you the perfect excuse to bunk off. Sort of. According to new research by experts at LSE, people are in general more likely to have a lower weight if they regularly practice ‘high impact walking’, rather than other moderately strenuous activities such as swimming, running, dancing, weight training, taxing manual labour or housework.

The study, lead by health economics specialist Dr Grace Lordan, examined reported physical activity levels of respondents to the annual Health Survey for England between 1999-2012 (a sample of approximately 50,000 people). Individuals gave feedback on the frequency that they engaged in activities that typically cause perspiration and an increase in heart rate over a period of 30 minutes, for example cycling, football, jogging, moving furniture, chopping wood and digging. Dr Lordan then analysed data including participants’ body mass index and waist circumference, finding that men and women who regularly walked briskly for 30 minute periods or longer had lower BMIs and smaller waists than those who took part in sports, activities or other activities. The effects of an energetic walk were even more marked in those over 50, people on low incomes and women.

Given that the obesity epidemic is reaching breakpoint in the UK, costing the NHS roughly £1 billion a year, and coupled with the effect that the study’s authors estimate that 80% of us aren’t meeting the recommended government target of 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise per week, Dr Lordan thinks that advocating power walking could help to turn things around:

“The results provide an argument for a campaign to promote walking. Focus on physical activity is minimally controversial as it would not be subject to political lobbying as is the case for “fat” tax and other policies that aim to change consumption of junk foods in a person’s diet.”

“Additionally, there is no monetary cost to walking so it is very likely that the benefits will outweigh the costs. It has also been shown that walking is associated with better physical and mental health. So, a simple policy that “every step counts” may be a step towards curbing the upward trend in obesity rates and beneficial for other health conditions.”

We say mix it up, but pounding the pavements is certainly a convenient (and free) way to maintain fitness levels. If you needed even more endorsement, exhilarating strolls have worked wonders for these wellness experts…

How often do you go walking? Have you noticed a difference in your weight or fitness levels? let us know below or tweet us @GetTheGloss


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