LIFE

How Walking To Work Makes You A Happier Person

If it worked for Aristotle, it works for us.

21/06/2016 11:09 AM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:54
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Doing the happy walk.

We've heard it all before: 10,000 steps a day is the target for optimal health in adults.

But as anyone whose had a go with a pedometre would know, reaching the golden target, which actually equates to around eight kilometres on a daily basis, is kind of hard.

According to the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey, fewer than one in five adults recorded 10,000 steps a day on average, with the median falling short at 7,400 steps.

The good news is that there is a solid amount of research that points to the benefits of walking much less, with some studies finding walking may actually have more positive effects on the body than swimming -- and even running.

Ahead, six reasons to swap your morning bus ride for the pavement, or for those commuting a distance, jumping off a few stops early to reap the benefits of simply placing one foot in front of the other. You'll be happier for it, science said so.

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1. Reduce your risk of obesity


More than half of Australia's population is overweight. As we get older, we'll get fatter too, with four in five Australian men aged over 45 overweight or obese. In a study that looked at the relationship between walking, cycling, and obesity rates in Europe, North America and Australia, researchers found countries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates.

2. Improved glycemic control in older people

A study from the American Diabetes Association found that walking directly after breakfast, or any meal for that matter for at least 15 minutes three times a day significantly improved glycemic control (blood glucose level) in older people. Further, a study by researchers at the Imperial College London and University College London found people who walk to work are around 40 percent less likely to have diabetes compared with those who drive.


3. Walking beats the gym when it comes to weight control


Treadmill loathers, rejoice. Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science found that a brisk 30-minute walk is more effective at weight control than running, swimming or even going to the gym.

4. It will make you happier


A study from the University of East Anglia looked at the transport habits of 18,000 18-65-year-old commuters over an 18-year period in Britain, and found those who switched from driving to walking or cycling to work benefited from improved wellbeing. On top of that, the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological wellbeing. In contrast, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work.


5. You're more focused


If your morning walk includes nature, bonus points. Dr Kate Lee from the University of Melbourne looked at how viewing and experiencing nature in short bursts can help to maintain concentration with tasks including reading, writing and planning.

"There are a range of different benefits associated with viewing nature. These include lower stress, better mood, as well as altruistic behaviour," Lee told The Huffington Post Australia.

6. Geniuses throughout history swore by a stroll


Okay, so not quite science backed but Aristotle, Beethoven and Charles Dickens were all big fans of a good walk. Dickens was known for his night strolls through London when he couldn't sleep and also, for going on a huge afternoon trek following a morning of writing.

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