Take A Hike: Brisk Walking Slows Down Biological Aging

Anti-Aging Medicine
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Anti-Aging Medicine
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Did you know that a brisk walk could add years to your life? Hiking in nature is more than taking in beautiful views, in fact, a recent study from the University of Leicester at the National Institute for Health Research suggests that there is a link between walking pace and the rate at which people age, specifically a lifetime of brisk walking leads to longer telomeres. 

Telomeres are a topic that is often discussed in anti-aging and longevity research. Telomeres are like little caps at the end of each chromosome, and they help to protect it, like a cap does on the end of a shoelace. But every time a cell divides these protective caps become a little shorter until the cell can no longer divide and enters the state of replicative senescence, and the accumulation of senescent cells is believed to contribute to a range of symptoms associated with aging. 

This study published in Communications Biology utilizes genetic data from over 400,000 adults who were enrolled in the UK Biobank revealing a clear link between walking pace and a genetic marker of biological age, leucocyte telomere length (LTL). The researchers estimate that a lifetime of brisk walking could lead to the equivalent of 16 years younger biological age by midlife. Additionally, the researchers found that brisk walking alone, regardless of how much physical activity a person does, leads to longer telomeres. 

“This research uses genetic data to provide stronger evidence for a causal link between faster walking pace and longer telomere length. Data from wrist-worn wearable activity tracking devices used to measure habitual physical activity also supported a stronger role of habitual activity intensity (e.g. faster walking) in relation to telomere length,” said Dr. Paddy Dempsey a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of Leicester and within the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, part of the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust, and lead author on the study. 

“This suggests measures such as a habitually slower walking speed are a simple way of identifying people at greater risk of chronic disease or unhealthy ageing, and that activity intensity may play an important role in optimising interventions. For example, in addition to increasing overall walking, those who are able could aim to increase the number of steps completed in a given time (e.g. by walking faster to the bus stop). However, this requires further investigation,” said Dempsey.

Basking in nature has been shown to have positive effects on our health, additional research indicates that walking along water can make those effects even greater. The eye-pleasing mixture of green and blue spaces can help ease anxiety, reduce stress, and promote an overall calm feeling. For those of you looking to combine the benefits of blue and green space with brisk walking, hiking provides the perfect opportunity to do so, and we have listed some of the best American places for your anti-aging hiking adventures. 

The Pacific Northwest has some of the most picturesque combinations of green and blue spaces full of waterways lined with unique species of trees, mountains, and trails to follow while you take it all in. Oregon is an outdoor lovers’ ideal stomping ground with the year-round mild weather making going outside always an option. This brings us to Portland, the amount of hiking trails here is amazing, covering every possible terrain from lava fields to rivers, forests, gorges, waterfalls, meadows, lakes, and mountains, from beginner to the more adventurous and experienced hikers and climbers. If you enjoy being outdoors, it is almost impossible to be bored in Portland, Oregon. 

Springdale, Utah is home to one of the most spectacular places for outdoor enthusiasts, Zion National Park. Sure you can drive through here and still leave feeling peaceful and happy, but the real joy comes in traveling by foot or biking. Zion has some of the best hiking trails that you may ever see ranging from beginner to adrenaline-shot advanced experts, all offering unbelievably spectacular views. You can’t help but feel relaxed and calm as you bask in the serene landscape. As you might expect it is a blaze of color, soaring sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, sand dunes, mountains, canyons, lava rock, white cliffs, bike trails, horseback trails, ample backcountry, and much more. It is open all year long, but the weather can be a bit unpredictable so check for recent updates before you go to pack accordingly. A word of caution, Zion isn’t the only majestic destination in this region, you may fall in love and never want to leave. 

Denver, Colorado is full of many outdoor delights like skiing, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and many other activities. There are tons of great trails here, some of them are renowned for the stunning scenery due to the close proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Denver is a hiking hotspot that is suited for every skill level and is on many people’s bucket lists who are looking for unforgettable hiking experiences in breathtaking landscapes. This is another outdoor lover’s ideal playground full of incredible trails that can even lead you to some amazing hot springs that are surrounded by lush forests. 

With over 249 scenic routes Tucson, Arizona hides a surprising wealth of wildlife and plants within the hundreds of miles of trails that are available to hikers of all skill levels. Hiking in this area can also offer a look into American natural history as you pass national parks, old mines, petroglyphs, desert landscapes, canyon climbs, and waterfalls. The climate here in winter is mild, but summer days can get remarkably hot. 

Boise, Idaho is home to some of the best nature this nation has to offer for those who love outdoor adventures. Access to hundreds of miles of great trails from here offers a bit of everything, national forests, climbing, mountain bike trails, kayaking, hot springs, skiing, horseback riding, camping, and hiking. No matter your skill level you will be able to find a picturesque trail to travel on as you walk your way to better health, some of them are so beautiful and fun that you will want to return time and time again. 

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