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Zap your fat genes with a spot of country walking

Don't give up and think you are just genetically programmed to becoming obese. Researchers followed over 12,000 subjects and found that you could overcome those fat genes with two good habits -- a brisk walk for an hour a day and watching TV less. Sit less, walk more and you are not at the mercy of your DNA.
The study looked at subjects in the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study and rated them on 32 genetic factors that predispose us to having a high body mass index (BMI). They looked at the reported physical activity and TV-watching habits of the subjects two years before their BMI measurement.
Those whose physical activity equaled one hour per day of brisk walking saw 50% less influence from their fat genes. Meanwhile, those who watched TV for four or more hours per day saw 50% more effect from their fat genes.
The take-home message? Don't think being fat is just your fate. A brisk walk for 30 to 60 minutes each day brings many health benefits in reducing risks of major diseases, besides helping you maintain a healthier body weight. Meanwhile, study after study is showing that spending more time sitting still brings its own health risks. Don't just watch Biggest Loser -- get off the couch and become a big winner.
  So it's all to do with genetics is it? If you're programmed to be overweight then there is nothing you can do about it... You can simply sit in front of the TV and blame your DNA. Wrong! But new research has found that you can overcome the so-called fat genes with two very simple habits: Sitting down less and walking more. The Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study followed 12,000 people and rated them on 32 genetic factors that predispose humans to having a high body mass index (BMI). Then they looked at the physical activity and TV-watching habits of the subjects over two years. The participants who did one hour a day of brisk walking saw 50% less influence from their fat genes. Meanwhile, those who watched TV for four or more hours per day suffered 50% more effect from their fat genes.

So you might want to take up walking

A brisk walk of 30 to 60 minutes each day is all it takes. Alternatively walk for 30 minutes a day and then plan a longer country walk at the weekend. With the official start of summer just around the corner this could be the ideal time to take up a little countryside rambling. You don't need much in the way of map-reading skills and equipment to get started. Simply choose routes that are waymarked, such as forest trails or point-to-point routes and then make sure you're dressed for the outing. As a minimum you'll need is a good quality pair of walking shoes or boots (make sure they are really, really comfortable); loose-fitting and comfy clothing; a waterproof jacket; and a rucksack to carry a few extras, such as water and a healthy snack. If it looks like there will be rain while you're out, pop in a pair of waterproof over-trousers (getting wet legs while you're walking is unpleasant and not necessary!) Start with a walk of just a few miles and build it up over the following weeks. Once you can manage five miles, start to add in a few hills for added fitness benefits. Walk with a friend and pass the time chatting and taking in the views. Another benefit of country walking is the positive affect on mental attitude and a reduction of stress. Many studies have shown that walking is the perfect way to boost feelings of well-being and self-esteem. In fact, we're struggling to think of any drawbacks to countryside walking! Are you ready to pull on your hiking boots?

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