New York: Researchers have found that walking with a purpose — especially walking to get to work — makes people walk faster and leads to health benefits.
The study, published in the Journal of Transport and Health, found that walking for different reasons yielded different levels of self-rated health. People who walked primarily to places like work and the grocery store from their homes, for example, reported better health than people who walked mostly for leisure.
“We found that walking for utilitarian purposes significantly improves your health and that those types of walking trips are easier to bring into your daily routine,” said study researcher Gulsah Akar from the Ohio State University in the US. For the findings, the research team analysed self-reported health assessments from 125,885 adults between the ages of 18 and 64.
Those adults reported the number of minutes they spent walking for different purposes – from home to work, from home to shopping, from home to recreation activities and walking trips that did not start at their homes. And, the survey respondents ranked how healthy they were on a scale of one to five. The dataset the researchers analysed included more than 500,000 trips.
The researchers found that walking for any duration, for any purpose, increased how healthy a person felt. But they also found that an additional 10 minutes of walking per trip from home for work-based trips – say, from a person’s house to the bus stop 10 minutes away – increased that person’s odds of having a higher health score by six per cent compared with people who walk for other reasons.
People who walked from home for reasons not connected to work, shopping or recreation were three per cent more likely to have a higher health score. The researchers also found that walking trips that begin at home are generally longer than walking trips that begin somewhere else.
The team found that 64 per cent of home-based walking trips last at least 10 minutes, while 50 per cent of trips that begin elsewhere are at least that long. The findings suggest that building activity into parts of a day that are otherwise sedentary – commuting by foot instead of by car, for example – can make a person feel healthier.
“That means going to a gym or a recreation centre aren’t the only ways to exercise,” the study authors wrote.