Power walking is key for lowering dementia and cancer risk, says research

Walking has been hailed as one of the best exercises you can do. From trimming the waistline to lowering a number of serious health risks.

According to the NHS, walking briskly can “help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier”. Even as little as a brisk 10 minute daily walk can make a difference.

Walking the allocated 10,000 steps has become an obsession among many with the latest and greatest gadgets ensuring this is achieved.

But new research is now delving into the power of upping your walking known as power walking which has shown benefits beyond steps recorded.

Walking reduces dementia risk
In previous studies, researchers found that for every 2,000 steps walked helped to lower premature death risk by 8% to 11% up to around 10,000 steps.

In terms of a reduced dementia risk, a higher number of steps per day helped to directly reduce a person’s risk.

It was also found that walking 9,800 steps was the optimal daily amount linked to a 50% lower risk of dementia, but risk was reduced by 25% at as low as 3,800 steps.

Associate professor Borja del Pozo Cruz from the University of Southern Denmark said: “For less active individuals, our study also demonstrates that as low as 3,800 steps a day can cut the risk of dementia by 25%.”

But interestingly in the new study, which was published in the journals Jama Internal Medicine and Jama Neurology, it was also found that step intensity or a faster pace showed beneficial associations for all outcomes including dementia, heart disease, cancer and death – over and above total daily steps.

This was determined after data was analysed from the UK Biobank study looking at step count data from 78,5000 adults aged between 40 and 79 years old.

Researchers investigated this data using wrist accelerometer to measure physical activity for a minimum of three days out of a seven-day period including a weekend day and monitoring sleep periods.

Burn more calories from power walking
The calories burned from power walking are comparable to those burned by running.

According to the CSG Network’s calorie burn calculator, a 150-pound person walking at a pace of 4.5 mph for one hour would burn approximately 307 calories.

By comparison, the same 150-pound person jogging at 4 mph on a level surface would also burn approximately 307 calories.

High-impact workouts such as running can be harder on your body compared to low-impact exercises like walking or power walking.

Co-lead author Dr Matthew Ahmadi, research fellow at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health, said: “The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day but also aim to walk faster.”

He added: “The size and scope of these studies using wrist-worn trackers makes it the most robust evidence to date suggesting that 10,000 steps a day is the sweet spot for health benefits and walking faster is associated with additional benefits.

“More research with longer-term use of trackers will shed more light on the health benefits associated with certain levels and intensity of daily stepping.”