It is an undisputed fact that physical activity is necessary for
good health and a strong heart. But do you have to run a marathon
to achieve this goal? Do you even have to run? The answer is NO!
Walking is just as effective as running for reaching and
maintaining good health. As a matter of fact, walking is touted as
“exercise of choice” for people who have not been working out,
but know that they should.
It is an undisputed fact that physical activity is necessary for good health and a strong heart. But do you have to run a marathon to achieve this goal? Do you even have to run? The answer is NO!
Walking is just as effective as running for reaching and maintaining good health. As a matter of fact, walking is touted as the “exercise of choice” for people who have not been working out, but know that they should.
Walking has numerous health benefits such as helping to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even Type II diabetes. It is also much easier on the knees and ankles, while still being the weight bearing exercise to help offset osteoporosis (bone density loss). Additionally, walking can improve your mood and reduces stress.
Why does walking work? It works because it is an aerobic activity that gets your heart rate up and uses large muscle groups for an extended period of time. Walking does just that. Granted, the better shape you are in, the faster you will have to walk to increase your heart rate. But that holds true for any exercise because your heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it will be. It will not have to work as hard to achieve the same results.
Another benefit of walking is that it is something most people can do with minimal effort. It is a skill we learn as toddlers and use throughout our lives. And unlike some other modes of exercise, it does not require much special equipment and can be done almost anywhere.
There are several things to remember when going for a walk. First of all, wear appropriate footwear that provides adequate support. Anyone who has ever walked in the wrong type of shoes knows the consequences – blisters, sore feet, achy knees, just to name a few.
Since everybody’s feet and needs are different, it is best to speak to an expert at the shoe store. From the arches of your foot up to your ankles, knees, hips, and back, it is crucial to make sure there is no undue stress on your body. Shoe and socks should have adequate cushioning, fit well, and be comfortable.
Second, be sure to warm-up before hitting your cruising pace. This involves nothing more than walking at a slower pace for five or ten minutes in order to achieve two objectives – to increase the temperature of yours muscles thus reducing the risk of injury, and to increase your heart rate to your working level.
Third, be sure to drink plenty of water, particularly if it is a hot day and you are sweating more. Keeping hydrated can be a matter of life or death. Remember, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Finally, if you are walking outdoors (and being Californians, is there any other way?) be sure to wear sunscreen, even if it is not particularly sunny out. Ultraviolet rays come through and increase your risk of skin damage, even on a foggy or cloudy day.
For optimum results, walk (or do some other form of exercise) at least 30-45 minutes per day. If you do not have a solid block of time, you can break it up into 10- to 15-minute increments during the day and get the same benefits.
Is running an effective way to get exercise? Yes. Is walking an equally effective way to get exercise? YES! Walk yourself to better health. You’ll be glad you did.
Come in and check out the new Xtreme Fitness in Morgan Hill. Mention this article and receive 30 days for $30 or 14 days free. If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact me at (408) 776-1617.
Karen Frost Seraphine is the Personal Training Director for Mavericks Sports Club in Morgan Hill. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Physical Education/Fitness Management from New York University, and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer and a Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant.