Walking for a Healthy Heart
Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.
Physical activity does not have to be vigorous or done for long periods of time in order to improve your health. A 2007 study of inactive women found that even a low level of exercise – around 75 minutes per week – improved their fitness levels significantly, when compared to a non-exercising group.
Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of the day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking is also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly, or who haven’t exercised in a long time.
Walking for fun and fitness isn’t limited to strolling by yourself around local neighborhood streets. There are various clubs, venues and strategies you can use to make walking an enjoyable and social part of your lifestyle.
Make Walking Part of your Heart Healthy Routine
Try to make walking a routine – for example, try to walk at the same time each day. Remember, you use the same amount of energy, no matter what time of the day you walk. So, do what is most convenient for you. You may find that asking a friend to walk with you will help make it easier. Some people find that keeping an activity diary or log also makes it easier.
Walking for 30 Minutes a Day
To get the heart health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. “Brisk means that you can still talk but not sing, or have a long conversation. Walking poses little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
Building Physical Activity into your Life
If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions. However, for weight loss, you will need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes each day.
Heart Healthy Benefits of Walking
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (HTN),high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
- Stronger bones and improved balance/mobility
- Increased strength and endurance
- Reduced body fat
Remember, it’s never too late to start improving your heart health. Walking is simple, free and one of the easier ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.
If you have any questions about physical activity or what’s right for you, consider a Comprehensive Exam at Princeton Longevity Center. In just one day we can help you on your path to optimal health!