Walking ‘is better than the gym’

Dutch scientists have found that long periods of walking could actually be better for you than high intensity exercise.

Researchers from Maastricht University in Holland found that low intensity exercise improves insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels at a better rate than an hour long, high octane workout, according to a study published in journal PLOS ONE. These levels are indicators of diabetes and obesity.

The scientists split 18 young adults aged 19 to 24 into three groups – one sat for 14 hours doing no exercise, the second sat for 13 hours but did an hour of vigorous exercise, and the final group sat for six hours, walked for four and stood for two.

It was found that when energy expended was the same, cholesterol and lipid levels were significantly improved in the group that exercised over a longer period, far more than in the other two groups.

Dr Hans Savelberg, from Maastricht University in Holland, who led the study, said: “One hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate for the negative effects of inactivity on insulin sensitivity and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting.

“Reducing inactivity by low intensity activities such as walking at a leisurely pace and standing is more effective than physical exercise in improving these parameters in sedentary subjects.”

He added: “Our study suggests that in addition to health interventions that stress the importance of spending enough energy to maintain a neutral energy balance, a minimal daily amount of non-sitting time should also be promoted.”

This is another good piece of news for the outdoor industry says Pelican MD Michael Bennett. Walking and cycling brands should promote these results and offer their backing to national events to promote outdoor activity such as Britain on Foot.

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