Start Walking Now

Emelia Clement  |  7/9/2014 8:57:54 PM

Walking with others has the added advantage of social support.

The heat and humidity of summer is here but should not prevent us from achieving our health goals. Being physically active daily is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Physically active people have a reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, some cancers, and live longer.

The Physical Activity Guidelines (PAG) issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 2008 recommends at least 30 minutes a day (2 ½ hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity - like brisk walking - a week) for adults (18-64 years) and at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day for youth (6-17 years). These recommendations can be met all at once or done in bouts of 10 or more minutes a day.

Brisk walking is one way to get active; it has numerous health benefits. Brisk walking is walking at an energetic pace that increases your heart rate and still allows conversation but you cannot sing. It does not require any special equipment or facilities and most people can walk. A pair of comfortable shoes is all you need to begin. In 2012 the CDC reported walking as the most popular kind of physical activity: 6 in 10 people in a study walked for ten minutes or more in the previous week. The percentage of walking people increased from 56% in 2005 to 62% in 2010. In addition to the above mentioned benefits of being active, brisk walking:

  • Builds muscles and stronger bones
  • Helps achieve a healthy weight
  • Helps achieve a healthy blood pressure
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Reduces stress and improves mood and confidence
  • Promotes outdoor enjoyment
  • Can be done on your own schedule and at your own pace
  • Helps you spend quality time with friends and family
  • Is free

So start brisk walking if you haven’t begun already. You can listen to music from your phone if you are walking by yourself. Walking with others has the added advantage of social support, especially when sharing challenges and solutions and catching up with family, friends or coworkers. Walk your dog too.

Set a target to walk 10,000 steps a day because studies show it helps reduce the risk of chronic disease and improves overall health in adults. Wear a pedometer to count steps or distances covered and log your steps. As a beginner you can start with 2000-3000 steps a day and gradually walk your way to 10,000 steps or more a day in upcoming weeks.

Walk a number of blocks in your neighborhood or the walking trail in your neighborhood park daily. Add steps during your lunch break. You can cover thousands of steps without realizing it as you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, but look out for low hanging limbs, uneven turf and cracked sidewalks as they present a safety hazard.

So walk every day, as often and as far as you can. REMEMBER: Doing something every day is better than doing nothing.

Resources:

Measuring Physical Activity Intensity
More People Walk to Better Health
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
10,000 Step Program

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