Today is National Walking Day, a time to celebrate something most of us do, well, every day—but don’t often stop to appreciate.
The holiday is part of the American Heart Association’s Move More Month in April, which aims to “celebrate physical activity and encourage all Americans to commit to being more active on a regular basis.”
Walking is a great way to do that: the obvious benefit being that you get from point A to point B and burn some calories along the way. But there are other perks to strapping on those ol’ tennies that might surprise you.
For example, Harvard Medical School points out that regular walking not only reduces the effect of weight-gain genes, but also eases joint pain, boosts your immune system, helps prevent disease, and can even tame an unruly sweet tooth.
Oh, and did we mention walking could earn you a discount on your insurance?
Certain life and health insurance companies have begun using wearable tech like fitness trackers to offer savings for customers. If you can prove you’re active and healthy, they figure, you should be eligible for a lower risk level and thus lower rates.
“I think 2019 will be a breakout year for the partnerships between wearable technology companies and their integration with insurance companies and other healthcare sectors.”
Danielle K. Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits
As of April 2019, this trend is still in its infancy. The most notable real-world example is John Hancock’s Vitality Plus program, which claims customers could save up to 15% on their life insurance rate by showing positive health tracking results. Vitality was widely released last year to a lot of buzz—some of it optimistic, some skeptical.
Whatever your opinion on insurers knowing when your cheat days are (it makes us cringe a little, too), it does seem like the industry is headed in that direction.
“Wearable technology has already entered the life and health insurance space,” says the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “Life insurers could use wearables to replace or supplement medical exams often used in the underwriting process, reducing costs and improving data quality.”
Roberts also addressed concerns about high-cost fitness trackers being a barrier to entry, saying some companies are willing to finance the wearables for their customers.
Of course, this is mostly food for thought right now. The chances your insurer will call you tomorrow and ask you to strap on a Fitbit are miniscule at best.
But whether or not you’ll see savings on your monthly insurance bill, it’s worth getting your steps in every day. The physical and mental health benefits are countless—and you can get those benefits with as little as 20 minutes of walking per day, according to the CDC.
In other words, you don’t have to walk 500 miles and then 500 more. Try starting with just five and see where it takes you.