An analysis of studies on walking showed it improves aerobic fitness - which is technically the ability of the heart to get oxygen to our muscles and how effectively our muscles use that oxygen. But to be effective, walking needs to be of at least moderate intensity, which means an intensity where you’re able to notice your breathing but can carry on a conversation without noticeable pauses between words. For many, this is a brisk walk.
This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Dr. Jampolis. "As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much," she says. "That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat." Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. "Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older," says Iasevoli. The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. "One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile," she says.

If it’s too hot to walk or run, swimming can be a cool way to get fit. It’s a low-cost workout for the whole body especially the muscles of the back, shoulder and arms and improves flexibility as well. It’s a good way to exercise if you’re overweight, pregnant or have joint problems as the water helps support your weight and can reduce the pressure on your joints. The risk of injury to muscles, ligaments or joints is also low.


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As you get started toward the recommended 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days per week, aim to exercise at a level that just lets you keep up a conversation during the activity. If you can get out three or four sentences in a row without gasping for air, it’s a sign that you’re maintaining an intensity that is truly aerobic, meaning aerobic metabolism is supplying the vast majority of your body’s energy, Jonesco says.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster than at rest. It strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently throughout your body. Aerobic exercise uses your large muscle groups, is rhythmic in nature, and can be maintained continuously for at least 10 minutes.
Although the programme started in earnest in 2010, Hall was cooking it up from the time she had to have an appendix operation, while pregnant, four years before that: a graduate from Loughborough University’s famous sports science degree, pioneer of American corporate weight management programmes, she was suddenly in a wheelchair and steadily gaining weight. “It came from a very personal space to heal myself, improve my posture, safeguard my joints, keep my sanity,” she says. WalkActive grew, at first informally when she integrated it into personal training programmes, and then into a system on its own, for which there is now an app, a book and audio coaching, as well as licensed trainers all over the UK. It is full-time work, changing the way people walk.
A sedentary lifestyle has led to an exponential growth of one of the most common diseases – diabetes. Scientists recommend no less than 5,000 steps a day with more than 3,000 of those steps being a brisk walk – to help manage type 2 diabetes (8). Walking every day can help control the blood sugar levels, which, in turn, can help you prevent type 2 diabetes.
Aerobic exercise comprises innumerable forms. In general, it is performed at a moderate level of intensity over a relatively long period of time. For example, running a long distance at a moderate pace is an aerobic exercise, but sprinting is not. Playing singles tennis, with near-continuous motion, is generally considered aerobic activity, while golf or two person team tennis, with brief bursts of activity punctuated by more frequent breaks, may not be predominantly aerobic. Some sports are thus inherently "aerobic", while other aerobic exercises, such as fartlek training or aerobic dance classes, are designed specifically to improve aerobic capacity and fitness. It is most common for aerobic exercises to involve the leg muscles, primarily or exclusively. There are some exceptions. For example, rowing to distances of 2,000 meters or more is an aerobic sport that exercises several major muscle groups, including those of the legs, abdominals, chest, and arms.
Your local gym will provide a wide variety of aerobic options, such as treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes, stairmasters, rowing and ski machines so that you can just switch on and get started with your workout. It can be a good idea to diversify between different machines and different speeds/levels of resistance as your body can get used to a certain routine and after a number of sessions the same routine will not work your heart and lungs as much as it once did.
Walking helps you get fitter and means your body gets better at using oxygen, so you find it easier to be more active and tire less quickly. Getting active releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins into the bloodstream, and getting that natural high reduces stress and anxiety and ultimately helps to build self-esteem. That’s got to be a good thing!
Observe basic safety while walking outside. Watch for traffic all around you. Always walk on sidewalks or on the left side of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Carry an ID and a cell phone or change for a pay phone. Use caution if wearing headphones (perhaps use just one earpiece so you can hear traffic and other noises around you). Make yourself visible in low-light situations by wearing reflective gear, such as vests with reflective tape are especially visible.
5. Dunstan DW, Barr ELM, Healy GN, et al. Television viewing time and mortality. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation 2010; 121: 384-91. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.894824v1?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Dunstan&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
Add a simple four-minute stretch routine a few days a week after your walk to maintain your natural range of motion. Just stand up, even if you're at work fully dressed in work clothes. Put one leg back, bend the front knee, and lean forward to stretch the calf muscle. For thighs, grab your ankle from behind, keep your knees close together. Lean forward to stretch your lower back.

Comfortable shoes: Only one thing is worth investing in when it comes to walking, and that's a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Even athletic shoes that are more than 6 months old may not have enough cushioning to support you. You may choose either athletic shoes for sidewalks and roads or light hiking shoes (rugged walking shoes) if you venture out on trails.

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I walked along my bus route, assuming that sooner or later, my arrival at another bus stop would coincide with the arrival of my bus. But it didn’t. So I walked some more, eventually making it to work, a mere 20 minutes later than I normally would have, calmer than I might have anticipated, and feeling like I’d accomplished something vaguely mammoth before 10am. I also felt liberated. Who wants to be enslaved to their public transport systems, beholden to the schedules, the whims and capriciousness. Suddenly, I had another option.
One of the most effective ways to gauge how hard you are working during exercise is to monitor your heart rate. Your heart rate is measured in beats per minute (bpm), and you can check it by taking your pulse periodically during your workout. Check either your radial pulse at your wrist or your carotid pulse at the side of your neck. Start with zero to count the pulse beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six to determine your heart rate. An efficient alternative to checking your pulse is to use a heart rate monitor, which displays your heart rate throughout your workout.

1. Walk as much as you can. The University of Warwick study compared people with at least one sign of metabolic syndrome—a group of risk factors (high blood pressure, fat around the waist, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides and cholesterol) for heart disease—to those with no risk factors. They found that those who got the least activity had the most risk factors, and those who walked the most—accumulating at least 15,000 steps per day—had healthy BMIs, smaller waists, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and better blood sugar control.


Comfortable shoes: Only one thing is worth investing in when it comes to walking, and that's a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Even athletic shoes that are more than 6 months old may not have enough cushioning to support you. You may choose either athletic shoes for sidewalks and roads or light hiking shoes (rugged walking shoes) if you venture out on trails.
Walking is an accessible and easy way for us all to get more active. Brisk walking that raises your heart rate and makes you warm and slightly breathless is a great form of aerobic exercise. Doing this regularly helps you to get fitter so you will find it easier to be more active and get tired less quickly. You may feel more tired in the first week or two after you start. But if you keep it up, you’ll probably find you soon have more energy than when you were inactive.
New research on the endocrine functions of contracting muscles has shown that both aerobic and anaerobic exercise promote the secretion of myokines, with attendant benefits including growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and various anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases. Myokine secretion in turn is dependent on the amount of muscle contracted, and the duration and intensity of contraction. As such, both types of exercise produce endocrine benefits.
Impaired aerobic capacity, also known as impaired endurance, is a common patient impairment that can limit participation in functional, occupational, and recreational activities. Even functional tasks that require only a few minutes can be limited by aerobic capacity. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to impaired aerobic capacity due to anatomic and physiological changes that occur with aging, greater propensity for sedentary behaviors, and greater risk for disease processes that limit the oxygen transport system.1 In addition, aerobic capacity is directly influenced by the habitual activity pattern of an individual, which may vary across individuals from total inactivity to frequent and intense activity. Any factors that limit habitual physical activity, such as illness, injury, and or travel, will cause adaptations that diminish aerobic capacity. Conversely, any factors that promote habitual physical activity, such as intentional exercise, yard work, and occupation-related physical tasks, will result in adaptations that improve aerobic capacity. In older adults, many physiological, pathological, and psychosocial factors can contribute to restricted physical activity. Figure 12-1 depicts the persistent vicious cycle that can be created when sedentary behaviors, chronic disease, and functional dependency interact.2 This chapter will provide an overview of causes and factors contributing to impaired aerobic capacity in older adults and describes physical therapist patient management (examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and interventions) to address decreased endurance and its impact on function.
This is a good aerobic workout that also boosts upper body strength — and helps you let off steam. Boxing classes are widely available in many gyms. Some classes involve sparring with a partner — you take it in turns to hold a pad or pads while the other person punches them while wearing boxing mitts. Others involve no mitts or pads, just air punching and other moves that simulate boxing training. You can also use a punching bag either at the gym or in your own home.
Which one you choose is a personal choice. They are not intended to compete with each other but rather to provide options and maybe even complement each other. For instance, the Surgeon General's recommendation may be more practical for individuals who are unwilling, or unable, to adopt the more formal ACSM recommendation. Of course, there's no downside to working out regularly with aerobic exercise and also becoming more physically active as per the Surgeon General (take more stairs, mow the lawn by hand, park far away from the store and walk), so combining them might be a good decision.
As you get fit, you burn less calories doing the exact same workout. Shift your walking workout into a higher gear by doing interval training. Start at a warmup pace for a couple minutes and then walk at a brisk pace. Every five minutes, increase your pace to a sprint level, either by speed-walking, running or skipping rope. Maintain this burst of speed for 30 seconds. Return to a slow walk for a minute and then back to your vigorous pace before the next sprint. You dramatically boost your heart rate during the sprints, and it stays raised during the recovery period, resulting in more calories burned.
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