The Powerful Anti-Aging Benefits Of Brisk Walking, Backed By Science

While it may not work up as much of a sweat as squats, weight lifting, or running, walking has a slew of physical and mental health benefits to offer. Past heptathlon world athlete Ann Green tells NBC News that walking can do everything from improving heart health, alleviating joint pain, lessening one's risk for cancer, boosting endurance, to protecting against depression symptoms and much more. Not only that, but 2010 research published in the journal Neurology detailed how walking may boost gray matter in the brain as we age, thereby protecting against cognitive decline.

But preserving cognitive function isn't the only way in which walking may reduce the effects of aging. With the growing popularity of fitness trackers, it's easy to measure the efficiency of our walks in terms of step count. However, recent research published in Communications Biology shows that another important factor is the pace at which we move. Researchers looked at how walking pace affected participants' biological age. As opposed to our chronological age, biological age is calculated based on the state of our physical health, explains Healthline. As a measurement of biological health, researchers used the length of participant telomeres — portions of our DNA found to become shorter due to aging and disease (via Insider).

Brisk walking could reduce biological age by up to 16 years

In an analysis of data from more than 400,000 midlife UK-based participants, those who routinely engaged in a brisker walking pace had longer telomeres, indicating increased protection against age-related disease over those who walked at a slower pace, reports Insider.

Senior author of the study Tom Yates commented on the potential anti-aging effects that brisk walking may provide, stating via Insider, "In this study we used information contained in people's genetic profile to show that a faster walking pace is indeed likely to lead to a younger biological age." Specifically, their findings showed that those who maintain a walking pace of more than three miles per hour could see a drop in their biological age of up to 16 years, in terms of telomere length.

So how much walking should we aim to get in per day? Study researchers write that a mere ten minutes of brisk walking every day has the potential to prolong our lifespan (via Communications Biology). Ten seems to be a magic number, as NBC News reports how mental health experts believe that ten minutes of walking can also decrease anxiety to the same degree as a 45-minute workout session.