Walking Improves Health

“Walking improves health, but pick up pace, say experts.”

 Courier Post of New Jersey via USA TODAY – 10/21/2013

Almost nothing is easier and cheaper than walking, but many people need to pick up the pace and put some spring into their step. And they need to walk whenever they can: Walk to do errands, walk the dog, go out and enjoy a local park, says Miriam Nelson, a professor at the Freedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston and the author of “Strong Women Stay Young.”

Walking is the most popular form of physical activity among adults in the U.S. and the most frequently reported activity among adults who meet the federal physical activity guidelines, the government says. The physical activity guidelines recommend getting at least 2 & 1/2 hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or one hour and fifteen minutes a week of vigorous intensity of aerobic activity, such as jogging. Regular exercise, such as brisk walking, may be one of the best prescriptions for improving your health, recent research confirms.

One study showed that taking a fifteen minute moderate-paced (3 mph) walk about thirty minutes after a meal helped control blood sugar in people who are a risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Other research found that exercise may be as effective as medication in preventing early death in people who have had heart attacks or strokes.

About 25% of all breast cancer in women of all ages could be avoided by maintaining a healthy body weight and doing regular physical activity, research shows. These studies add to a large volume of research on the benefits of regular physical activity. Exercise has been shown to lower the risk of early death, help control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, depression, some types of cancer and a host of other conditions.

So how fast is a brisk walk?

It depends on person. For some people, a 3 mph walk would be a brisk walk, but for others, that would be a  moderate pace, Nelson said, who was co-chairwoman of the committee that created the government’s physical activity guidelines. “Brisk means that you get warm walking, and you can sense that your heart rate is slightly elevated.” Adds exercise physiologist Richard Cotton, a spokesman of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis: “You should be able to converse, but not sing.”

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