Walking just 2.5 hours a week reduces risk of death, new study shows


Get your walk on peeps! Turns out, if you can walk just 21 minutes a day, you’ll get to live longer. A team in Australia conducted an 11-year study with over 380,000 people to measure the effect of moderate exercise on those who had trouble sleeping. As we know, poor sleep patterns can wreak havoc on a person’s well-being, and are associated with everything from weight gain to death. But for those in this study, whose average age was around 56, moderate walking counter-acted the effects of their poor sleep patterns. Yahoo has more.

Walking briskly for two and a half hours a week – or only 21 minutes a day – could reduce the risk of death in people who struggle to get enough sleep, a study has found.

A lack of sleep is known to cause a wide range of health problems including increased risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. But according to a team of Australian researchers, exercise can eliminate the health concerns caused by a poor sleep pattern.

The amount of exercise people did was categorised as high, medium or low, while sleep was split into healthy, intermediate and poor levels. A low level of exercise is equivalent to 150 minutes of brisk walking a week and meets the guidelines set out by the World Health Organisation.

Experts found that, compared with people in the high exercise group who also had healthy sleep, those in the low exercise and poor sleep group had a 57 per cent higher risk of early death from any cause.

When sleep was taken out of the equation, participants who did no exercise were 25 per cent more likely to have an early death than the most active cohort – but just 2.5 hours of walking a week reduced this to an eight per cent increase in risk.
The researchers said most of the links between poor sleep and early death were eliminated if people met the 150 minutes a week target.

[From Yahoo!]

The article discusses the causes of death for those who died. It’s Yahoo, not a medical journal so it doesn’t go into too much detail. Like, for instance, it doesn’t mention if anyone in the walking group reported that their sleep patterns improved during the 11 years. This is of interest to me because like Jennifer Aniston, when I turned 50, I stopped being able to run (and my gawd, do I miss it as well). I don’t have any idea what happened, but I have no energy for it anymore, so I turned to walking. I walk about 3.5 miles five times a week now and I am a notoriously poor sleeper. Unfortunately, these two things have been working against each other of late. I’ve been awake between 11P & 4A each night and when I do fall back asleep, I sleep through my walking hour. So, I’m tired and under exercised. Maybe I should just buy that plot now.

This is the latest in a long list of reasons to make walking a part of your routine. I’m not telling you to replace your current workout but if you don’t do any cardio, look into a stroll every now and then. And if it counteracts that poor night sleep, what do you have to lose?




Photos credit: Laura James, Ono Kosuki, Rodnae Productions and Teona Swift on Pexels

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28 Responses to “Walking just 2.5 hours a week reduces risk of death, new study shows”

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  1. ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

    I’m currently off work (due to stress, ha), and I’ve been walking 6-7 miles a day and sleeping great. My poor brain feels so much better-I was hitting a point of complete over-work and exhaustion, and my workload was preventing me from exercising regularly. Now, this has been a healthy reset, and I’m working to form new habits and prepare to set some firm boundaries with my VP to try to make this time when I return. Glad to hear I’m reducing my death risks in the process. 🙂

  2. Becks1 says:

    I have started walking almost every day with our puppy and I admit that I feel a lot better in general. I’m still doing other workouts, but a walk in the AMs just helps me mentally, I feel like if nothing else gets done that day at least I’ve moved my legs some.

  3. Jessica says:

    I really got into walking when we adopted our dog in November… he and I would take so many walks, I even bought super unfashionable New Balance walking shoes. He was diagnosed with heart worms a few weeks ago and until those are gone, he’s on severe exercise restriction (no walks). I feel bad taking a walk without him, so I just don’t go, and I miss it! Can’t wait to get back into it

  4. Lili says:

    I’ve always been a walker, however im not doing much these days due to the pandemic,at one point i got into nordic walking wich was good fun. i used to run when i was in my 40s and sometimes i miss the feel of the wind in your face when running. i’ll be 53 in a weeks time and the doctor has told me to get out more (lol) . and im a poor sleeper too but im putting that down to tomuch time spent on devices ipad kindle etc. so im going to have to find something else to fill that void, as I’m normally catching up on stuff as i lie in bed, trying to get to sleep

  5. Bren says:

    I started walking everyday during the pandemic just to get some alone time. I lost 25 lbs as a result. I’m lucky to get about 4 hours of sleep each night, so this article is encouraging to me. I’ll keep walking.

  6. Merricat says:

    I love walking, and I love a basic weights workout. It’s good for my creative brain, and it’s good for my mood, and it keeps my weight down, and probably contributes to the quality, if not quantity of my sleep. I highly recommend.

  7. Swack says:

    I’ve taken my walks to the trail to hike. I love the peacefulness of the trail.

  8. Jekelly says:

    I walk my dog about two miles a day, and I love it. It’s my peaceful time where I regroup and get a few minutes alone.

  9. Darla says:

    It’s a big mental health boost too. For me anyway.

  10. Robyn Castellani says:

    This makes me feel better! I too have lost my ability to run – at 53 now can barely eke out 3 miles at an absurdly slow pace, whereas in my late 40s I was doing half marathons – and have been so frustrated. It is so helpful to know I am not alone. Maybe I should just lean into life as a walker.

    • Darla says:

      You can do both if you are able and want to. I break into a run for half of each lap, but the rest I walk. It’s great because it lessons the impact on your body, and it’s also interval cardio, which is excellent for you.

    • notasugarhere says:

      Have you tried interval walking? One minute medium pace, 30 seconds fast. If you can’t keep track by minutes, count your steps. 60 steps medium, 60 steps fast.

  11. Snuffles says:

    Now that the cicadas are gone and I’m fully vaccinated, I might start taking morning walks before work.

  12. Esmom says:

    This is good to know. I am a runner, lucky to still be able to do it at age 54, but last fall I also got into walking because a team at work joined a 6-week steps challenge. I loved getting outdoors even more and also listening to podcasts. I know I slept better and had more energy as a result of working that into my routine.

    To all the people struggling with sleep, I’m so sorry, it’s rough, but it’s so important to try to figure out. Another new study showed that poor sleep in your 50s can lead to dementia, which is exactly what I am seeing with my mom. Her lifelong anxiety resulted in terrible sleep issues and now she is paying a very steep price.

    I don’t know if anyone will find this helpful but along with treatment for my anxiety, essential oils before bed help me relax and drop off more easily (I found a great blend designed for “peace”) and also a breathing exercise when I happen to wake up in the middle of the night and am unable to fall right back asleep. The exercise is simple: 4 seconds of inhaling, 7 seconds holding, 8 seconds of exhaling, four times in a row. Repeat as necessary. I can’t overstate how much this has helped me over the past year. A friend of mine swears by listening to a meditation app before bed.

    • notasugarhere says:

      If you’re willing, would you please share the oil maker brand. I could do with some peace at bedtime.

      • Esmom says:

        Yes, of course, it’s doterra. I was going to try to make a blend myself based on something I used to use years ago then I saw their Peace blend was almost exactly what I was trying to make. Deep inhalations with this are just so relaxing. Best to you!

      • DiegoInSF says:

        Doterra is an MLM, there’s amazing essential oils that are not part of a predatory model.

      • Esmom says:

        Diegoin SF, I had no idea. I just ordered from their website after hearing that a friend liked their products but there was no coercion involved on anyone’s part. Thanks for the heads up. Any recommendations?

      • kero says:

        https://www.planttherapy.com/ is my go to! reputable, high quality, have sales relatively often. not MLM life destroying nor advocating for people to ingest oils to make profits while destroying their organs and potentially having the fda step in. [psa: do not ingest essential oils]. also be careful if one has indoor pets please.

    • Stephie says:

      That 4-7-8 breathing lowers your blood pressure as well as being calming. I do it before every doctor’s appt. (in the waiting room) and my bp is always in a good range (and it wouldn’t necessarily be otherwise). Was just good to have that confirmed a few times (they take bp first thing at these appts.)

    • Call_me_al says:


  13. ce says:

    Isn’t this a bit self-fulfilling? I know I sleep better on days I exercise, or am physically active at work. Correlation vs causation and all that

  14. KNy says:

    I read it as “Working just 2.5 hours a week reduces risk of death” and thought, “Well….duh.”

    As for walking, having a stubborn dog who walks me a few times a day, I think I hit my quota pretty easily.

    • DiegoInSF says:

      Lol! I misread it as walking just 2.5 hrs A DAY! And I was like JUST? And who has the time?

  15. CS says:

    I am a cardiac nurse and EVERYONE in the clinic I work at recommends this for patients. Please adopt this as a lifestyle.

  16. tealily says:

    I injured my foot and can’t run anymore, but I’ve kept up my daily lunch hour walks for years now. My weight has fluctuated, but it absolutely helps with my stress level. It’s the highlight of my day.

  17. Delphine says:

    This is really encouraging. Walking has been my favorite form of exercise since I was a kid. Right now I do about 4 miles a day 5 days a week and 1-2 miles a day on weekends. I had stopped for awhile during the pandemic and I feel so much better now that I’ve gotten back into it. The weight I gained has fallen off as well so that’s nice.