Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Exercise
Walk to be Fit for Life
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
Health Education Specialist in
We know that being physically active promotes good health. Most of us want to be healthy but for some reason we can’t seem to make the move to get to the gym or exercise class. There is an easy way to get fit that doesn’t require a trip to the gym or expensive equipment. Walking is a way to stay fit and the only equipment you need are your feet and some comfortable shoes.
Walking is a type of aerobic exercise. It’s the type of exercise that gets your heart pumping. It helps the cardiovascular system- heart, blood vessels, and lungs- work more efficiently. If you can get your cardiovascular system working more efficiently some of the health benefits you will reap include: reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of high blood pressure, reduced risk of stroke, and improved cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. If that isn’t enough, walking helps reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, reduces the risk for some types of cancer and helps strengthen the immune system to ward off viral illnesses.
The 2005 dietary guidelines state that we need to get 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week for reduced risk for chronic disease. You may wonder how you know if you are walking at moderate intensity. Walking two miles in 30 minutes is considered moderately intense exercise. And then there is the talk/sing test. If you can sing a song while you are walking, you need to pick up the pace. If you cannot talk while you are walking, you need to slow down.
You may have heard that you need to walk 10,000 steps per day. If you have a pedometer and have already been walking, that is a great goal. If you are just starting out, walk ten minutes a day and then gradually build your regimen. According to the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, walking at least a half hour six days a week can cut mortality from heart disease in half. You don’t have to walk 30 minutes all at once. Your health can be improved by walking in 10 minute bouts. The important thing to remember to benefit from ten-minute routines is that your heart rate must be increased for that ten minutes.
Walking can lower stress levels, help you sleep better and improve your overall mood. Put on your walking shoes and take a good brisk walk at the end of a hectic day. Somewhere along the path, you will feel yourself relax and hopefully the cares of the day will be put in perspective.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009