According to New York Times bestselling author and expert in Blue Zones (places in the world with the longest-lived people) Dan Buettner, the very best exercise you can do to support longevity is none other than walking. (No kidding!)
As Buettner tells mbg, taking a brisk walk can offer you roughly 90% of the physical activity benefits of training for a marathon—at a fraction of the exertion and impact. And not only that, but you can take a daily walk for your entire life, he notes, adding that walking "engages well over 100 muscles and also improves cognitive functioning1."
Buettner has found that regular movement is embedded into the culture and lifestyle of Blue Zones, which likely plays a role in the number of centenarians in these places.
"The big epiphany of Blue Zones is they're moving every 20 minutes, but not because there's some regimen. Their environment is set up in such a way that they're nudged into movement," he previously explained on an episode of the mbg podcast.
Research supports the idea that doing micro-movements all throughout the day can build more longevity-supporting muscle mass than just hitting one tough gym session. Taking just a 10-minute stroll every day has been linked in research to increased longevity in people 85 and older.2
Walking also counts as zone 2 cardio, a training style where you keep your heart rate between 60 and 70% of your maximum heart rate3 for an extended period to build cardiovascular endurance. As certified personal trainer Jonathan Olonade, CPT, NCSF, previously told mbg, "Training in zone 2 and doing cardio consistently is reflective of longevity."
If you've never heard of earthing, it simply entails walking barefoot on the earth. That might sound hippie-dippie, but one study actually found earthing changes the electrical activity in the brain, as measured by electroencephalograms, so the benefits go beyond just grounding to the earth.
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