June 1, 2023

Walking Daily is Good for Your Health

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Over the years, I’ve read many studies that show that a healthy lifestyle – including a balanced diet and sufficient physical activity – can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. I try to base my own habits on this research, and make sure I eat plenty of vegetables and get enough activity. I’ve also found that tracking my daily movement with a smart watch or health app motivates me to reach my goals including steps and minutes of exercise. At the end of a busy day, if I haven’t met one of those goals, I’ll walk my dog Willow for slightly longer to ensure I meet my daily targets.

Physical activity guidelines for Canadian adults suggest that we should get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week. But it doesn’t need to be all at once – the exercise can be split up into sessions of 10 minutes or more throughout the week. Examples of aerobic activity include brisk walking, bike riding, skating or playing sports such as hockey, pickleball and basketball.

It turns out that getting enough physical activity can help decrease the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia and several types of cancer. Exercise is also good for mental health – it helps boost mood and combat anxiety and depression.

Maybe you’ve been sedentary for a while and the thought of more than two hours of exercise per week is overwhelming or intimidating. The good news? You can start small. If you can, begin with a 10-minute walk and make small goals each week. You don’t have to start at the two-hour mark.

Interestingly, even small amounts of exercise are beneficial –and are certainly better than no exercise at all. In fact, recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that just 11 minutes of exercise per day (75 minutes of activity per week) may be enough to reduce the risk of chronic disease. And 11 minutes doesn’t sound so intimidating.

The study looked at exercise patterns of about 30 million adults and determined that higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and stroke, but you’ll be happy to know that small amounts of exercise were beneficial too.

I think that a small number like “11 minutes per day” seems much more reasonable as a place to start. So many try this: Pick two or three of your favourite songs and play them while dancing or walking around your home. That takes 11 minutes! Walking 1000 steps also takes around 10-11 minutes, so check the pedometer (step counter) on your smart phone and see how many steps you can take.

Of course, physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle, and should be paired with a balanced eating plan. Not sure where to start? Read some advice here , based on the Plate Model in Canada’s Food Guide. The advice is to create meals by dividing a plate into four quadrants. You fill two quadrants with vegetables and fruit, one quadrant with whole grains, and the final quadrant with a source of protein (our favourite is eggs of course!) or other sources like beef, pork, poultry, dairy, tofu, or beans. Repeat that pattern for meals and you’re off to a great start!

Margaret Hudson

President and CEO, Burnbrae Farms