According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on Tuesday, joining a walking club may be one of the simplest ways to improve health and morale. Researchers at Britain’s University of East Anglia came to this conclusion by analysing the results of 42 published studies on walking club members.
Nearly 3/4 of the approximately 2,000 people reviewed, in 14 countries were mostly women who regularly took part in club activities. These activities were of varying intensity and frequency, but generally each individual activity lasted under an hour.
By studying the walkers, the researchers were able to show that they experienced a “statistically significant improvement” in their well-being during the periods when they were regularly taking part in walking activities, compared to “sedentary periods”.
Among the noted improvements were better fitness, less depression, lower blood pressure, lower resting pulse, lower cholesterol and increased lung capacity.
The impact on blood sugar levels and their waistline measurement was rather more modest.
The research studied volunteers both before and after they joined a walking club, and many of them had health problems such as obesity, diabetes, osteoarthritis, depression or Parkinson’s disease.
The authors note that “Walking with a group is an effective and safe activity that is easy to stick to and that presents a lot of health benefits.” although the study did not compare the health impact of walking with that provided by other sports.