Harvard scientists think this may be the most important exercise you will ever do

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Though most residents of the U.S. are under stay at home or safer at home orders, we have also seen a huge emphasis placed on the importance of getting exercise right now. Not only for our physical health but for our mental health as well. And according to Harvard scientists, one of the best things you can do is also the simplest: take a walk.

In  Walking for Health, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, researchers discuss the numerous benefits of simply taking a walk every day.

For example, did you know that walking can help reduce your sugar cravings? Two studies from the University of Exeter found that just a 15-minute walk can literally reduce the amount of chocolate you eat and sugar-filled snacks.

Walking can also prevent arthritis from developing or if you have it already, it can provide some relief as it lubricates your joints. One study found that walking five to six miles a day can fend off arthritis.

A brisk walking habit can even help with cancer. The report cites an American Cancer Society study on women who walked seven or more hours a week. They were found to have had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than women who walked three hours or fewer per week.

And let’s not forget that in this time where our immune systems are so vulnerable, walking even 20 minutes a day can help reduce sick days overall compared to those who only exercise once per week.

What’s more, walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and keep you mentally sharp.

Plus, you may get some creative ideas while you walk. A 2015 Harvard Business Review article referenced a small-scale, 2014 study featured in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, which found that “walking opens up the free flow of ideas.” The study also found that walking “is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

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