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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Exercise


Move It! 1 Mile Good; 2 Miles Better; 3 Miles Best

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension


Last week I attended a workshop on Motivation to Move. We were told to dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes, as we would be moving during the workshop. Actually, I could relate to the TV series where the Sergeant yells at Gomer Pile to “Move it! Move it! Move it!”

Despite being tired and sweaty - and sunburned - it was an excellent workshop. It was conducted by Robert Sweetgall, America’s leading advocate of walking for wellness. He says, “Movement is essential for thinking!” and I guess if he wanted us to absorb what he was saying, we had to move. The workshop was fun and motivational as I’m still moving - actually wishing I was not sitting here at this computer working on the column. I’m currently motivated at tracking my distance with a pedometer and using my walking poles - something new in the fitness equipment line.

Sweetgall looks at movement in footsteps and miles and related information from the Harvard Alumni Study that showed mortality decreased as physical activity level increased. Here are some of Sweetgall’s conclusions from the research he includes in his “Pedometer Walking” manual:

  • Inactive, physically-unfit people have the highest death rate. By the way, most Americans fall into this category.
  • Just rising off the couch and walking 1 mile per day (2000 steps) significantly drops the mortality rate. 15 to 20 minutes of walking is definitely beneficial to your health.
  • By increasing to 2 miles of walking per day, you continue to benefit from 30 to 40 minutes of walking.
  • Increasing to 3 miles per day (6000 steps) continues to lower the mortality rate to near an almost optimal level.
  • Increasing beyond 3 miles per day - say to 5 miles per day - helps reduce the mortality rate a bit more. However, the primary benefits are reached in going from 0 to 3 miles per day!
  • Beyond 5 miles per day, the death-rate curve begins to climb back upwards, proving that too much of a good thing may not be optimal.

Conclusion: 1 mile per day of brisk walking is good for your health; 2 miles per day is better; and 3 miles per day is best.

What do you gain from exercising besides longevity? It can …

  • Increase brain power
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Boost energy
  • Strengthen the heart
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Burn calories and fat
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Increase metabolism
  • Relieve stress
  • Lower risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes
  • Decrease bone loss
  • Decrease risk of some cancers

What a healthy dose of medicine just from moving!







Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009




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