Walking in groups boost health

Updated: Jan 20, 2015, 08:24 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Paris: Walking is the best form of exercise which helps in staying fit and improves health. But walking in groups can help the walker to develop a positive attitude towards physical activity, a shared experience of wellness and also make them feel less lonely and isolated.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, joining a walking group is one of the easiest ways to boost health and morale of the walker.

Walking groups are also effective and safe with good adherence and wide-ranging of health benefits.

Researchers at Britain`s University of East Anglia analysed 42 published studies of people who took up organised walking -- regular outings that typically lasted less than an hour.

It is found that walkers after joining the walking group enjoyed a significant improvements in their wellbeing compared to the formerly sedentary state.

Small but measurable gains were seen in general fitness, blood pressure, resting heart rate, lung power, cholesterol levels, body fat and in a standard test to measure depression.

The benefits of joining walking groups is that it makes the people more physically active.

The picture was less clear for waist circumference and blood glucose.

Those who joined a walking group, three-quarters tended to stick to it and it is a risk-free activity, apart from the odd stumble over roots or wet ground.

These are benefits that doctors should point out to sedentary patients, the paper said.

The published studies, accessed through online databases, involved almost 2,000 people in 14 countries.

The volunteers were assessed before and after joining a walking group, and many had a wide-range of long-term health conditions, ranging from diabetes, arthritis and depression to obesity and Parkinson`s disease.

Other sports were not evaluated.

(With Agency inputs)