Walking is an excellent form of exercise that can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels. It is a low-impact activity that can help improve your physical and mental health. Healthcare professionals often recommend walking as an exercise because it is a simple and effective way to improve overall health and well-being. Here are some of the reasons why healthcare professionals recommend walking:
1.Reduced risk of chronic diseases: A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that walking 30 minutes a day reduced the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers by 20-30%.
2.Improved cardiovascular health: A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking for at least 30 minutes a day reduced the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes by 31%.
3.Weight management: A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help with weight management and reduce the risk of obesity.
4.Improved mental health: A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
5.Reduced risk of falls: A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that walking regularly can improve balance and reduce the risk of falls in older adults.
5.Improved sleep: A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that walking can improve sleep quality and reduce the risk of sleep disorders.
Overall, these studies suggest that walking every day can have numerous physical and mental health benefits and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
How to start your walking program?
Walking is a great form of exercise that can improve overall health and well-being. Here are some tips for an effective walking program:
1.Set a goal: Setting a goal can help keep you motivated and on track. It could be a certain number of steps per day, a distance to cover, or a time to walk.
2.Start slowly: Begin with a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed and distance. Aim to walk at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
3.Incorporate intervals: Alternating between periods of faster walking and slower walking can help improve cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories. Try a 2:1 ratio of brisk walking to recovery walk
4.Include hills: Walking uphill can help build leg muscles and increase cardiovascular fitness. If you don't have hills in your area, consider using a treadmill with an incline feature.
5.Use good form: Keep your head up, shoulders back, and arms swinging naturally at your sides. Take short, quick steps to maintain a brisk pace.
6.Wear comfortable shoes: Invest in a good pair of walking shoes that provide support and cushioning. This can help prevent injury and make your walks more enjoyable.
7.Track your progress: Use a pedometer, fitness tracker, or smartphone app to track your steps and progress. This can help motivate you to reach your goals and stay on track.
8. Make it enjoyable: Listen to music, walk with a friend or pet, or explore new routes to make walking more enjoyable. Find what works for you and stick with it!
Remember to check with your physical therapist before starting any exercise program, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.
How long should you walk?
The recommended duration for walking per day depends on your fitness level, age, and overall health. However, as a general guideline, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, which includes brisk walking. This translates to about 30 minutes of walking per day, five days a week. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, which could be accomplished through activities such as jogging or hiking.
If you are new to walking or have been sedentary for a while, you can start with shorter durations of walking and gradually build up to 30 minutes per day. Even walking for shorter durations such as 10-15 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day, can still be beneficial.
It's important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, especially if you have any health concerns. If you are unsure about how much walking is appropriate for you, you may want to consult with a healthcare professional or certified personal trainer for guidance.
How to find the intensity for your walking program?
The intensity of your walking program is an important factor to consider as it can affect the health benefits you will gain. Here are some ways to measure the intensity of your walking:
Heart Rate: Monitoring your heart rate during exercise can be a good way to measure intensity. A target heart rate zone of 50-85% of your maximum heart rate is considered moderate intensity. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
Perceived Exertion: This method involves rating how hard you feel like you are working on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very light and 10 being very hard. Moderate intensity should feel like a 5 or 6 on this scale.
Talk Test: The talk test involves gauging your intensity by your ability to talk while walking. At moderate intensity, you should be able to speak in full sentences but not be able to sing.
Walking Speed: Your walking speed can also be an indicator of intensity. A brisk pace of 3-4 miles per hour is considered moderate intensity.
It's important to note that everyone's fitness level is different, so what feels moderate for one person may be different for another. Start at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your intensity as you become fitter and stronger.
Overall, walking is an important activity that can improve physical and mental health, mobility, social interaction, and cognitive function. It is a simple and accessible form of exercise that can be done anywhere and can have numerous benefits for people of all ages and fitness levels.
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