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I recently realized that it has been a minute since I experienced a stroll from the book 52 Ways to Walk. And with the realization came the determination to browse through the book and select a new walk to try.
July in Missouri is hot and humid. I didn’t let that stop me from choosing Walk #7, Take a 12 Minute Walk. In fact, the muggy weather inspired this choice. Even with the late afternoon heat I felt I could handle a 12 minute walk.
Why 12 minutes?
Check out the post for the reason behind this particular time.
Why Take a 12 Minute Walk?
Sometimes, due to stress or busyness or life situations, we push the activity of walking to the “I’ll get back to it soon” list.
This chapter in the book encourages us to stop postponing this incredibly healthy activity and get back out there by walking for just 12 minutes a day. According to a study from Massachusetts General Hospital, walking for 12 minutes is enough to dramatically improve health.
Researchers tracked 411 middle aged men and women, measuring the levels of 588 metabolites in their blood. These molecules are biological markers within the body that gauge the current state of health.
By monitoring the participants’ metabolites before and after walking, researchers could determine the amount of exercise required before changes took place.
They found that after 12 minutes of brisk walking, 80% of the metabolites in the participants’ bodies showed positive change.
Changing Health for the Better
One of the metabolites that changed dramatically was glutamate. The brain creates glutamate when the body is under stress or exposed to toxins. Too much glutamate in the body is a biomarker for heart disease, diabetes and a shorter life span. Excess glutamate is also linked to brain shrinkage, a common cause of dementia.
Researchers discovered that just 12 minutes of walking, or other exercise, reduced glutamate levels by 29%. They also found a metabolite associated with liver disease and diabetes dropped 18% while another metabolite known to attack fat stores increased 33%.
This rather brief burst of walking or other exercise significantly affects the level of metabolites that governs bodily functions such as insulin resistance, oxidative stress, vascular reactivity, inflammation and longevity.
Armed with this important information, a daily walk of 12 minutes is extremely beneficial for health.
The study found that the best 12 minute walk to enhance health was a brisk or vigorous one.
Take a 12 Minute Walk Tips
Walk briskly, building up stamina over time. A brisk or vigorous walk is characterized as taking 100 steps per minute.
Start by setting a timer on your phone for 60 seconds and then counting steps until you reach 100. Try picking up the pace if the timer sounds before reaching 100 steps.
Build up speed by alternating brief bursts of acceleration with regular walking. Do 15 second bursts of speed, then 30 seconds, then 60. Then return to normal walking for one to two minutes. Repeat.
Walking correctly with the right posture helps in walking faster. For tips, read the post Improve Your Gait.
Time a 12 minute route in your neighborhood or at a favorite park or walking location so you know exactly how far to walk.
Then set apart a time to walk. Early morning person? Walk before breakfast. More of a night person? Walk in the evening. Twelve minutes is a very doable amount of time to set aside for something as important as better health and wellbeing.
Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. And take along a container of water to stay hydrated.
Taking a 12 Minute Walk
My days are very full right now. However, I know walking is crucial. This chapter reminded me of just how important it is to make time for walking and other forms of exercise, daily.
I chose nearby Mercy Park for my first 12 minute walk. The park just added seven new sculptures to the grounds and I was eager to see them.
During my walk I alternated brisk bursts of walking with normal walking. I’ll have to work on improving my speed.
After my brisk walk, I made another, slower loop around the park so I could take photos and admire the sculptures. In spite of the heat, a steady breeze helped keep me cool and a fine mist off of the pond fountain was refreshing as well.
My intention is to take a 12 minute walk every day for the next 30 days and beyond. I’ll do a follow up post to share the results!
Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk
If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, in all kinds of weather, then this book is for you!
The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.
I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. And my Walk in the Cold at this LINK. I intend to continue selecting different walks from the book.
Are you ready to take a 12 minute walk this week? Where will you walk?
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.