World Walking Day: Walking Works Wonders!

US population walking
Studies show that being active makes people feel more energetic. There are probably many reasons for this. For one, moving around helps get the blood flowing so you feel alert. In addition, many people say they feel better about themselves when they are regularly active than when they are sedentary. They feel more in control, more capable, and more motivated. Moderate exercise increases heart rate and breathing, which can improve overall fitness. The fitter you are, the more you have for physical activity. As you become fit, your body improves its ability to use oxygen, and your heart improves its ability to supply blood to all parts of the body.

One thing you may notice as you become fit is that your heart rate at rest slows down. It takes less effort to pump the same amount of blood to your brain and muscles when you’re fit than when you’re unfit. A strong heart and cardio-respiratory system mean greater stamina and a decreased chance of heart attack and heart disease.

Dozens of studies have confirmed the many health benefits associated with walking. Some of them include;

  • Weight control. In general, people who successfully lose weight and keep it off incorporate physical activity into their weight-management plan. Even moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking boost the calories you burn every day.
  • Good health. Many studies show that walking every day significantly reduces high blood pressure. Surprisingly, moderate activity seems to lower blood pressure better than vigorous exercise.
  • Bright spirits. Getting up and walking can help fight the blues. Some studies have shown that regular physical activity can help relieve stress and symptoms of depression.
  • High odds of staying healthy. People who make moderate activates such as walking part of everyday life run less risk of developing heart disease, colon cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

NOTE: The total number of calories you burn is the same whether you do three 10-minute bouts of the activity or one 30-minute session (as long as the intensity remains the same). Finding opportunities for short activities is often easier than finding an uninterrupted half-hour. If you are overweight or obese, it may be easier to accumulate shorter bouts during the day.

Now it’s time to commit to a plan. Identify where you can fit in a few minutes’ walk. Here are my suggestions; during a coffee break is one possibility, during commercials for your favorite TV show is another. Maybe you can park the car at the far end of the lot or get off the bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way or if you are a new parent you can strap on a baby carrier and take a walk.
Remember the goal is to add a little more physical activity to your daily life.

P.S. Before embarking on any form of exercise, ensure that you have a clean bill of health from your doctor.

Reference

Department of Health and Human Service. 2008. Physical activity guidelines for Americans. 
Disclaimer: The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the authors, but it should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
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