Body & Sports

Brisk walks better at keeping weight off than going to the gym: study

Updated: 2015-11-04
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People who regularly walk for 30 minutes at a brisk pace have lower BMIs and slimmer waists
Brisk walking is better for keeping weight off than going to the gym, a study has found. 
Women of all ages and men over 50 who regularly walked for more than 30 minutes were found to weigh less than those who took part in vigorous activities like jogging or cycling. 
Research by the London School of Economics discovered people who walked a lot had lower BMIs and smaller waists than those who took part in regular sport. 
Dr Grace Lordan, a specialist in health economics who led the research, compared the measurements of people who took part in activities which increased heart rate and caused perspiring. 
She compared people who said they regularly did half-an-hour of fast-paced walking to those who did the same amount of heavy housework, manual labour and sports like rugby. 
Waistline and BMI measurements showed that men and women who regularly walked briskly for more than 30 minutes had lower BMIs and smaller waists than those who engaged in regular exercise.
The findings were based on physical activity levels from the annual Health Survey for England between 1999 and 2012.
Government guidelines suggest adults should do 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity every week, but there is no suggestion of which activity is the most effective.
Currently, 32million adults in the UK are overweight – about 60 per cent of the adult population – of whom 12.5million are obese. 
Estimates by the World Obesity Forum predict this will rise to three-quarters of the adult population by 2025.
The latest research suggests nearly eight in ten adults are failing to meet the government-specified exercise targets, with obesity costing the NHS almost £1 billion a year.
The article, due to be published in the journal Risk Analysis, believes a campaign to promote the health benefits of walking would be a more effective way to tackle obesity rather than public health messages on healthy diets:
'Given the obesity epidemic and the fact that a large proportion of people in the UK are inactive, recommending that people walk briskly more often is a cheap and easy policy option,' it states.
'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 by the same authors 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.' 
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