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Dangers of Not Going for a Walk Every Day, Says Science

Those days spent sitting without so much as a daily walk could be doing irreparable damage to your health.

With many gyms closed and people stuck at home as COVID continues to spread throughout the U.S., it's no surprise that the past year hasn't been the most active one for many Americans. In fact, according to a Nov. 2020 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, in the first 30 days of the pandemic alone, there was a 27.3% decrease in the average number of steps taken among 455,404 individuals studied across 187 countries. That even includes not simply going for a walk every day!

It's more than just the Quarantine 15 you have to watch out for if you've traded in your active lifestyle for a more sedentary one, however—not taking so much as a daily walk can have major consequences for your health. Read on to discover what can happen to your body if you're not going for a walk every day. And if you're ready to shed those extra pounds, discover these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.

Your longevity decreases.

senior man with winter seasonal illness fever cold problems

Sitting all day long could mean more than just poor health—it could shorten your life. According to a 2019 study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, sedentary behavior over the course of a 20-year period doubled a person's risk of an early death. However, just a minor modification—like a daily walk or standing more—could help. In a 2012 study published in BMJ Open, researchers found that reducing sitting to under three hours a day could increase a person's life expectancy by as much as two years.

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Your risk of heart disease skyrockets.

Young woman feeling sick and having chest pain while coughing at home.

Want to keep your heart healthy for years to come? Taking a daily walk is a great way to start. In a 2012 study published in The Lancet, researchers found that physical inactivity directly contributes to approximately 6% of global heart disease cases. And if you want to make your heart healthier, start with these 20 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.

You may be more likely to develop breast cancer.

woman in white t-shirt with breast cancer pink ribbon

Approximately 1 in 8 women and 1 in 833 men will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and not getting in some daily exercise, like a regular walk, could increase your risk. According to a 2011 review of research published in Recent Results in Cancer Research, the study's authors found that the most physically active women studied had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who did the least physical activity. And if you want to protect your health, check out these 22 Foods That May Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk.

You're more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Close-up Of Person's Hand Checking Blood Sugar Level With Glucometer

Type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects more than 30 million Americans, can frequently be prevented through lifestyle modification—but sedentary behavior can cause your risk of type 2 diabetes to skyrocket.

A 2016 study published in the World Journal of Diabetes found that walking just 30 minutes a day reduced a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 50%, but a 2014 meta-analysis published in Medicine and Sport Science reveals that frequent sedentary behavior can cause a person's risk of developing the disease to rise by 112%. Ready to start making healthier choices? Discover the 26 Best and Worst Foods for Diabetics.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah