On Your Mark, Get Set, Walk

So you can’t run. That is no excuse not to be active. Just walk. Walking is a good way to start your journey to good heart health. According to a study done at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory briskly walking can lower your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Each of these conditions is risk factors for stroke or heart disease.

Researchers analyzed runners and walkers in the National Runners’ Health Study the National Walkers’ Health Study. They found the same energy used for moderate to intensity walking and vigorous to intensity running resulted in about the same reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease. The study was done over a six year period.

“The findings don’t surprise me at all,” said Russell Pate, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “The findings are consistent with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for physical activity in adults that we need 30 minutes of physical activity per day, at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week to derive benefits.”

So you do not know what to do. Well, just get started. Even if you have done no type of physical activity for a while do not be afraid to start walking. You can start by walking a few minutes a day. Just remember to add minutes to your walk as quickly as you can. At least increase your minutes and speed every week.

Set yourself a reachable goal just for today. Then get started one step at a time. Most of us are good at making excuses. Break this habit and feel better about yourself. Remember that your overall goal should be to walk 30 minutes a day and increase your time as you better shape. But remind yourself that if you cannot walk 30 minutes at first do not let that keep you from starting today.

Just find an approach that you feel will be enjoyable. Some people do better by having a friend walk with them others enjoy walking alone because they appreciate the solitude.
Most people are busy these days so it is important to know that it is okay to split your walks into 10-15 minute periods. At first you may find it helpful to work in your walk while you:

Take the dog out for a stroll through the neighborhood.
Spend quality time with the family at the park.
Park farther from your workplace and use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Window shop at the shopping center.

It may be hard to get started but once you do it will be easier and it works. Get yourself a good pair of sneakers, get on the mark, get set and walk. Walking has been found to be easy, safe, and the least expensive type of exercise. Walking also has a very low dropout rate.

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