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Updated: Dec 29, 2022

If we could, we would be handing out prescriptions to walk to all our patients!

"Yes, this simple activity that you've been doing since you were about a year old is now being touted as "the closest thing we have to a wonder drug," in the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Of course you've heard everyone talk about how beneficial exercise is, but walking comes with some very special rewards:

1. Walking counteracts the effects of weight-gaining genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes to determine how much they actually contribute to body weight. They discovered that the weight-gaining effects of those genes were cut in half in study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day. So, ya, walking can in fact, work against fat genes!

2. Walking can tame a sweet tooth. Studies found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat when you're stressed out. And research also confirms that walking can reduce cravings and how much we eat of a variety of sugary snacks.

3. Walking reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity reduces 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. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones."

4. Walking eases joint pain. Many studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking 5 to 6 miles a week can even prevent arthritis from beginning! "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."

5. Walking boosts immune function. It's true! walking can a

ctually help protect you during cold and flu season. "A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder." The numbers don't lie... get out there and walk!

Source: Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

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