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The Surprising Benefits of Walking

 

The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this simple activity that you’ve been doing since you were about a year old is now being touted as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” in the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course, you probably know that any physical activity, including walking, is a boon to your overall health. But walking in particular comes with a host of benefits.

Here’s a list of five that may surprise you.

It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes

Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

It helps tame a sweet tooth

A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. 

Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.

It eases joint pain

Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

It boosts immune function. 

Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

Cite: Harvard Medical University News

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.

In 2013, an estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, while 64,640 will be diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer. With early detection and treatment, women can fight back against breast cancer.

Diagnosed with Breast Cancer?

Here Are Your Treatment Options:

  • Breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy. An operation to remove the breast cancer, but not the breast itself.
  • Total mastectomy. The entire breast is removed. Many celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Christina Applegate, Kathy Bates and Sharon Osbourne, have spoken out about their choice to receive a double mastectomy.

You Are Not Alone in Your Fight Against Breast Cancer!

Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer can be overwhelming. Hearing the perspective of others who have survived cancer can give you a better perspective on treatment and survival.
Here are a few quotes from famous faces who won the battle against breast cancer:

  • “Having had cancer, one important thing to know is you’re still the same person at the end…most people come out the other end feeling more like themselves than ever before.” -Kylie Minogue
  • “I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff.” – Olivia Newton-John
  • “Cancer gave me the gift of being fearless.”- Today show co-host Hoda Kotb
  • “I was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago and am recovering from a double mastectomy. I don’t miss my breasts as much as I miss Harry’s Law.” – Kathy Bates

What Can I Do To Show My Support in the Fight Against Breast Cancer?

“With over 3 million women battling breast cancer today, everywhere you turn there is a mother, daughter, sister, or friend who has been affected by breast cancer.” -Betsey Johnson

Even if you don’t suffer from breast cancer, you most likely know someone who is. Show your support by:

  • Donating to charities
  • Participating in walks and races that give proceeds to breast cancer foundations. Some of the most popular races include the Race for the Cure, Three-Day Walk for Breast Cancer and “Tour De Pink.”

Do your part in the fight against breast cancer!