I went for a nice long walk today. It finally stopped raining, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the high 40s. I was so happy to be out in the fresh air. I could walk for hours on days like this.
Maintain a healthy BMI
One of the easiest ways to be healthy and fit is to put on your walking shoes, get outside and walk. According to a study published by the University of Warwick, people who walked at least 15,000 steps per day were more likely to be in the healthy range for body mass index (BMI). People who walk more and sit less tend to have lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Walkers tend to have lower blood glucose levels which helps to minimize the danger of developing diabetes.
Support brain health
In a clinical trial of older adults in Japan, it was found that after 12 weeks of daily walking, participants had significantly greater improvement in memory and executive function compared to the control group that just went about their usual routine. Another study published in the Journal of Neurology determined that walking is associated with a larger amount of gray matter in the brain, which is a measure of brain health.
Exercising aerobically can improve your mood and lower stress levels. Walking is no exception. Aerobic exercise helps to release endorphins and improve your mental state. Walking in nature is especially good for this.
Extend your life expectancy
According to the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers found that walking about three hours per week lowered the risk of premature death compared to those who did little to no walking. It’s never too late to start either. A study in the journal Maturitas found that seniors with an average age of 80 who walked four times per week were less likely to die over the study's ten year follow up compared to those who walked less.
Experts agree that any amount of walking is good but to really reap the benefits, you need to rack up the miles and step up the pace. The minimum suggested for good health is at least thirty minutes per day and at least five days per week. More and faster is better but you will see some health benefits with just that amount.
Following are some ways to put more steps in your day and to get the most out of your effort.
Walk as much as you can
The University of Warwick did a comparison between people who exhibited at least one symptom of metabolic syndrome and people with no such factors. They discovered that people who were most sedentary had the most risk factors, but people who logged at least 15,000 steps had healthier BMIs, smaller waist circumference, lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
A study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, looked at not only number of steps but how quickly subjects walked. Those who walked faster had similar outcomes to those who walked longer. Keeping a pace of 2.5 to 3 miles per hour did the job.
Break it up
Take several walking breaks during the day of at least 10 minutes each. It keeps you from being sedentary throughout the day and will decrease your risk for heart disease.
Do some intervals
Rather than doing your 30 minute walk at the same pace, try doing some high intensity interval training (HIIT). Alternate between 30 second to one minute bursts of faster high intensity walking and one to two minutes of recovery slower walking. Studies have shown that people who practice HIIT tend to have lower levels of abdominal fat and smaller waists.
If you increase your intensity by walking uphill you can get twice the benefit in half the time.
The important thing is to walk as much as you can. Any amount of walking is better than nothing. The more you move, the better off you will be, the healthier you will be and the longer you might live.
Since June 2019, I decided to hold myself accountable for walking my talk. Several years ago, I was able to take off 135 pounds and essentially save my own life. I regained some of that weight in the last couple of years and I’m working my way back down. I’ve lost over 40 pounds since I began in June and have exercised nearly every day since August.
If you choose to join me on this journey, I hope I am able to impart some nutritional and lifestyle wisdom. Even though I may have gone off the rails temporarily I can still share some of my first hand experience as well as my acquired knowledge and training to help you make the right changes to live your best life.
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