In case you need another reason to get more exercise, here’s a good one: A new report reveals that walking for at least seven hours a week significantly reduces women’s chances of developing breast cancer. The study, which was conducted over the course of 17 years, showed that women who spent an hour or more a day walking or engaging in other, more strenuous activities were 14 percent less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer than women who exercised three or fewer hours a week. (Hello, Breast Cancer Awareness Month!)
If you’re thinking to yourself that you’re lucky to get even three hours of exercise in a week, may we remind you that fall is a great time to jump-start your workout routine?
Obviously, seven hours a week is a lot of time to dedicate to fitness, even if you exercise somewhat regularly. But a figure like 14 percent is pretty convincing, and we’re convinced you can eek out at least a few more minutes of walking every day to meet this quota. Your tatas will thank you later.
How can you achieve this? Here’s one way: For every 10 minutes you usually spend walking, running, biking or working out on the elliptical, tack on an extra three minutes—at a slower pace, if you must—to the end. So, if you typically spend 30 minutes on the treadmill, you’ll be adding an extra nine minutes to your workout. If you make it to 39 minutes, why not push it one more minute to a nice, even number? An extra 10 minutes a day might not seem like a lot, but it adds up over the course of a week.
Something else to consider might be trading in your heels for shoes you’re more comfortable walking in. We’re not talking tennis shoes or orthopedics to cramp your business casual style at the office, but instead of grabbing the closest parking spot to the office building you can find, park a bit farther away and add a few more steps—you’ll shake that groggy, grumpy post-commute feeling and be more awake on the job.
Speaking of jobs, even if you’re swamped, don’t be tempted to work through your lunch break. (Especially if you’re not paid for that precious time—come on, now!) Spend at least five minutes either walking outside around your building (hello, sunlight), or if you’re in a tall building, take the stairs from the basement to the top. The more stories, the better—track your time and even set goals. Bonus points if you walk post-leftovers-for-lunch—it’s good for preventing diabetes.
Other recent studies have shown dog owners are more active than people who don’t own dogs. If you’re a dog owner with a fenced-in yard, though, you may be less inclined to take the pup on regular walks. But don’t you love the look on Duke’s face when you do break out the leash? Take him out for a little fun a couple of times a week, and you’ll both be happier and healthier. For any dog lovers who don’t actually have one, what better excuse to finally give in to your heart’s desire?
Yes, it takes a commitment to make the time for exercise, but it also takes a commitment to show up for work every day and eat (relatively) well. Chances are, if you tracked the time you spent procrastinating online, you’d be looking at twice the amount of time you should be moving around. Whether you get up a few minutes earlier in the morning or push yourself just a few minutes longer at the gym in the evening, you’ll be happier for it in the long run. A woman is more than the sum of her parts, but sometimes, some of those parts need a little extra care.
To join other walking women, visit Susan G. Komen and race for a cure together.