You may want to consider keeping a simple log of your walking sessions. If you have a pedometer, a tool that calculates your steps and distance, you can write down how many steps you’ve taken that day. Did you walk on a treadmill? Write down your time, distance, and pace in a notebook or an Excel spreadsheet. Looking back on all your steps is a great way to stay motivated.
‘Aerobic’ exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than at rest. It is of a light to moderate intensity, and can be undertaken for a prolonged duration (many minutes to several hours) without excessive fatigue. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, swimming or cycling at a steady pace. Another example would be dancing or ‘aerobics’ classes.Regular exercise causes your body to make adjustments that result in improved health and physical functioning. Continuing with regular exercise enables your body to maintain these benefits. Regularly doing the right types of exercise at the correct intensity, and for an appropriate duration, results in the most benefit.The benefits of aerobic exercise can be broadly categorised as either ‘fitness’ (physical capacity) or ‘health’. Fitness and health are linked, and most forms of aerobic exercise will help you achieve both.Fitness — including increased cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance (stamina)Regular aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your capacity to use oxygen. It does this by increasing your heart’s capacity to send blood (and hence oxygen) to the muscles. This is mainly achieved through an increase in the size of the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles), which means that your heart doesn’t have to beat as fast to deliver the same amount of blood. This is evident in a slower resting heart rate, and a slower heart rate for the same exercise intensity.As you get ‘fitter’, particular activities (such as walking or jogging at a specified speed) will become easier.You’ll also be able to undertake the activity for longer (known as endurance), and/or at a higher intensity (e.g. jogging at a faster speed). The same applies to activities such as cycling or swimming, but it should be noted that fitness tends to be specific. So jogging will provide only limited benefits to your swimming fitness and vice versa. However, a side-benefit you may notice is that you also have increased stamina for the everyday activities of life, not just for exercise.Other fitness improvements occur in the exercising muscles, and are specific to those muscles being used in the mode of exercise (e.g. walking, running, cycling, or swimming). These include an increased capacity for the muscles to take up and use the additional oxygen being delivered by the heart.Reduced risk of certain health problemsRegular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. It can lower blood pressure and improve your blood cholesterol by reducing the levels of LDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and increasing the amount of HDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘good’ cholesterol). It can also reduce anxiety, stress and depression, as well as instilling a general sense of well-being. Regular aerobic exercise has even been shown to have the potential to increase your lifespan.Low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming is valuable for improving general health and fitness in people who have arthritis or other conditions that limit their ability to do weight-bearing exercise.Importantly, whereas fitness tends to be quite specific, many health benefits can be gained from any form of aerobic exercise. Additionally, the health gains can be achieved from relatively moderate amounts of exercise — moving from a lifestyle involving no exercise to one that involves some exercise can lead to substantial improvements in health.Weight controlAerobic exercise burns up energy (calories). Regular sessions of 30 to 60 minutes of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise (at around 55 to 70 per cent of maximum heart rate) can be an important part of a weight loss or weight management programme that is also mindful of the energy (calories) consumed as food.However, many of the health benefits associated with aerobic exercise occur independently of weight loss. Evidence from large studies has shown that active, overweight people do not have a greater risk of many diseases than inactive people who are not overweight. From a health perspective, it is of course best to be both active and a healthy weight, but if weight reduction is a problem, it doesn’t mean that the exercise is having no benefit.Improved bone and muscle healthYour risk of osteoporosis (excessive bone thinning as you age) can be reduced by regular weight-bearing aerobic exercise such as brisk walking.By stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels in your muscle tissues, aerobic exercise has also been shown to lessen the pain experienced by people who have fibromyalgia or chronic low back pain, as the oxygen supply to the muscles is improved and waste products are removed more efficiently.Social benefitsRegular aerobic exercise can have social benefits too, whether you walk with a friend, play tennis with workmates, or form a social cycling team. Exercising with friends can also be the most effective way of ensuring that you do it regularly.Aerobic exercise precautionsAs with any form of exercise, be aware of over-exercising, either by doing aerobic exercise too hard, for too long or too often. This approach can lead to injury, and abandoning of your fitness programme. Remember to build up gradually from your current activity level, and not to progress too rapidly. If you are new to regular aerobic exercise, several weeks of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise are usually advised before introducing more vigorous aerobic exercise sessions.If you have existing health problems, are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, or have muscle, bone or joint injuries, check with your doctor before undertaking an aerobic exercise programme. Also, men aged over 40 years and women aged over 50 years who have not exercised regularly in the recent past should check with a doctor before undertaking a programme of vigorous physical activity. Last Reviewed: 11 January 2010
In terms of how fast it takes to get fitter through walking, that really depends on your level of fitness to begin with. If you were to add in 150 minutes of brisk walking to your week (split up into manageable sessions), you should notice a difference in how fit you feel in around six weeks, however if you're already super fit, this will help to maintain your fitness levels rather than increase it.
The statistics are impressive: The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes. Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%. One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, found that those who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines (30 or more minutes of moderate activity on 5 or more days per week) had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly. "The physical benefits of walking are well documented," says Scott Danberg, director of fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. With impressive results like these, there's a good chance you'll get a pat on the back from your doc at your next checkup.
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.
The question of BP lowering with aerobic exercise in type 2 diabetics has been studied. In the Early Activity in Type 2 Diabetes (ACTID) trial, 593 newly diagnosed diabetics were randomized to use of a pedometer in a program that included intense counseling or standard or intense dietary advice.46 There was no difference in SBP or DBP after 6 or 12 months, even though the participants using pedometers increased their steps by 17% on average. Whether the exercise was merely of too low a “dose” to be effective is unclear. There may be some male-female differences in BP response to aerobic exercise, with women exhibiting BP lowering with resistance compared with aerobic exercise and men responding similarly to both types of exercise.47 The 2013 AHA Scientific Statement recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per day most days of the week.2 The authors assigned dynamic aerobic exercise a Class I, level of evidence A recommendation in those for whom it is not contraindicated. Our review of the evidence since 2013, as well as that from another group, confirm these recommendations.41,48 Whether or not high versus moderate (or interval) intensity training is optimal for BP-lowering as well as other aspects of the dose-response effect (i.e., ideal duration of cumulative exercise per week) and the potential impact of different types of aerobic activity requires further investigation.
A single activity can include elements of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. For example, interval training, where you alternate cycles of low-intensity (aerobic) and high-intensity (anaerobic) work during the same workout, has elements of both. So does a game of tennis where you might sprint at one moment (anaerobic) and then move less aggressively for several minutes (aerobic) as you hit ground strokes from the baseline.
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Classes are great for people who like to exercise with others, who like to dance, who like music and rhythm, who want the extra motivation and energy that an instructor and class provides, and who prefer the structure and schedule of a regular class. Classes, equipment, and videos are all great ways to stay fit and healthy, but if you're limited by injury or other conditions, then aerobic exercise chair workouts may be just the thing (see resources for online vendors). The instructor leads you through a workout in a chair and it's great exercise. You might not need chair exercise, but you may have a parent or friend who does. Exercise videos and DVDs make great gifts!
High intensity interval training, which involves alternating periods of intense effort with recovery periods, can help you blast away calories. In 2014, researchers for the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, & Metabolism found that a 20-minute high intensity interval training workout boosted metabolism just as much as 50 minutes of cycling at a steady pace during the 24 hours following the exercise. In the study, participants in the interval training group cycled at a sprint pace for 60 seconds and then recovered for 60 seconds following each sprint. Add high intensity interval training to your routine to increase your metabolism in less time!
Taking a walk alone can be great for clearing your head or blowing off some steam but it also provides a great opportunity to bond with friends and family—far away from electronics and other distractions at home. Even better, you set a powerful example because when they see you reaping in the benefits of walking, they’ll be encouraged to walk more, too, according to a study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Try these walking workouts that will keep your walking group interesting.
A lot of people, thinking themselves on a “power walk”, brace themselves, particularly their abs. But you don’t really want to be braced, you want to be taut. Bracing your abs and glutes makes you feel as if you’re making an effort, but it silos your muscle groups. Tautness, on the other hand, lengthens and connects them, activating the connective tissue (the fascia) that holds the show together.
What I mean by "be specific" pertains to setting exercise plans. Planning is helpful for behavior change, and I suggest that you set goals each week. I suggest writing down what day(s) of the week you'll exercise, what time of day, minutes of activity, location, and the activity that you'll do. Be as specific and realistic as possible, and remember that it's not how much you do when you get started but that you simply get started (getting started is usually the hardest part).
4. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, et al. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39(8):1423-34. Abstract available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2007/08000/Physical_Activity_and_Public_Health__Updated.27.aspx
You need hand-eye coordination to punch a pad or punching bag so it may be trickier than you think — but you’ll soon improve with regular practice. You won’t get a black eye because there’s no combat involved, but there’s a risk of injury to hands and wrists if you’re punching a pad or punching bag. Many gyms provide boxing mitts, however you’ll need to bring your own cotton gloves to wear inside.
Cardiovascular health. Fitness walking strengthens your heart, improves your circulation, and lowers your blood pressure. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine evaluated 73,743 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study and found that women who walked briskly 2.5 hours every week reduced their chance of heart disease by 30 percent.
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.
Start with the basics: your shoes. Trainers are best, with very flexible soles; too rigid and you won’t be able to feel your entire foot. They should have a boxy front rather than one that tapers, so you can feel every toe. Most trainers are a little bit wrong, and Hall is now developing her own. But, she says, by the time you know what you’re doing, you can wear almost anything.
Whether you're feeling stuck at work or you've been searching for a solution to a tricky problem, research shows it's a good idea to get moving: According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. "Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters," says Dr. Jampolis.
In general, to increase your aerobic fitness you should exercise intensely enough to reach your target heart rate range. Your target heart rate range is 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. A general formula to determine your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. (For example, if you are 50 years old, your maximum heart rate is 170 and your target heart rate range is 102 to 136.) Check your heart rate as you exercise and try to keep it within your target heart rate range.
Barough has devised different training programmes for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, for weight loss, and for those with distance goals. I am in training for the Moonwalk marathon this summer (2005), but I started using this book when I was a complete novice and it has held my hand all the way through. I am still referring to it to remind myself of things I have forgotten, for information that is relevant to me now but wasn't when I started, or for the extras I can focus on now that more of my routine has become automatic.
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I personally walk about two hours a day or about 55 miles per week. I do this barefoot without a shirt on at the beach and so am able to get my sun exposure and read two or three books a week. Multi-tasking like this allows me to easily justify the time investment. Most don't realize that walking burns the same amount of calories as running, it just takes longer.
You burn more calories per mile at very low speeds because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn't helping to carry you along. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Those extra muscles burn up extra calories with each step. Running may burn more calories per mile as there is an up and down motion lifting your weight off the ground as well as moving it forward."
FITNESS DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only. Vigorous high-intensity exercise is not safe or suitable for everyone. You should consult a physician before beginning a new diet or exercise program and discontinue exercise immediately and consult your physician if you experience pain, dizziness, or discomfort. The results, if any, from the exercises may vary from person-to-person. Engaging in any exercise or fitness program involves the risk of injury. Mercola.com or our panel of fitness experts shall not be liable for any claims for injuries or damages resulting from or connected with the use of this site. Specific questions about your fitness condition cannot be answered without first establishing a trainer-client relationship.
A brisk walk provides us with the best source of natural energy. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in the body, helping you feel more alert and alive. Regular walking should mean you sleep better too. It also serves to bring stiff joints back to life and ease muscle tension. We can all feel sluggish at times, but you can help break that cycle through walking.
Walking helps to improve your heart health. Irish scientists have reported that walking is the best exercise for sedentary individuals, especially adults, to reduce the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases (2).In another study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, scientists confirmed that men and women of 65 years of age or older, who walked for at least 4 hours every week, were at less risk of cardiovascular disease (3). So, make sure to walk for 4 hours or more a week to keep heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke at bay.
Your weight x distance = energy used walking. Time does not matter as much as distance. If you speed up to walking a mile in 13 minutes or less, you will be burning more calories per mile. But for most beginning walkers, it is best to increase the distance before working on speed. A simple rule of thumb is 100 calories per mile for a 180 pound person.
The good news is that weight-bearing exercise, including walking, can help maintain and even build bone density, reducing the likelihood of osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures. The thing to keep in mind is that the bone-saving benefits only occur in the bones and muscles being forced to work against gravity to bear weight. For instance, walking can help maintain bone density of the legs, hips, and spine, but won’t improve bone density in the shoulders or arms. You would need to add other exercises, such as pushups, to your exercise routine to do so.
And there’s more good news: walking burns calories! The exact numbers will depend on your weight. But if you walk briskly at about 6.4km per hour (4 miles per hour) for half an hour, you could use up around 150 calories. It’s probably equal to playing casual badminton for the same length of time. And it’s more than half the number of calories in the average chocolate bar!
The good news is that you don’t need to walk at a vigorous intensity for health or aerobic fitness benefits. Walking at a moderate intensity will increase your aerobic fitness and, more importantly, your endurance (the ability to carry out activities for longer with less fatigue). This is because it allows your body to burn fat more efficiently, improves delivery and use of oxygen in the muscles, and improves mitochondria density and efficiency (these are producers of energy in our body), all leading to greater capacity to undertake tasks with less fatigue.
“Some people walk like this.” Joanna Hall, sports scientist, one-time TV fitness guru and now walking expert springs off to demonstrate a walk. She looks purposeful, compact and speedy, like a person on her way to give someone a piece of her mind. It is a fine walk. But I can tell from her manner that it does not meet the criteria of WalkActive, a walking programme Hall devised from scratch eight years ago. “And some people walk like this,” Hall continues. She embarks on a diffident shuffle, with arms swinging aimlessly from side to side.
Part of my walk tutorial is in the original YMCA building in central London – a cavernous gym with incongruous snatches of stained glass reminding exercisers of a higher religious purpose. Every time someone walks past, Hall waspishly critiques their walk (eg: “Look at the bend in his knees and his arms are swinging like hinges”). This becomes more and more enjoyable as her meaning unfolds.
Anyway, Hall is still demonstrating: “And some people walk like this,” she concludes, doing a kind of kick out from the knee, like a novice Nazi about to flunk goose-stepping school. All modern scribes of the walk are united on this one thing: it is not supposed to be fast. Walking is, as the philosopher Frédéric Gros described, “the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found”. If you want to go faster, choose a different transport; maybe skates. The American author Rebecca Solnit wrote in Wanderlust: A History Of Walking: “I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.” But Joanna Hall goes fast, at 4.4mph – “beyond that, it starts to look snatched”. One could easily conclude that she has lost the poetry of the walk, but this would be quite wrong. When you start listening to your toes, your ankles, your hips, your chin, you are just making a different kind of poem.
How can you know if you are working in the right intensity? Using an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) chart can help you to determine the appropriate intensity. The scale uses a 1 to 10 rating system. One is very light, such as walking to the refrigerator for a glass of milk. Ten would be a very significant level, representing maximal exercise. Ten would be indicative of not being able to take another step without fear of collapse. It is not recommended for anyone to work at a rate of 10 without strict supervision by a healthcare provider. Moderate intensity is the level of exercise that is most recommended, and can be determined by a rating between a 3 and a 5.
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!
Running also has a slightly higher “afterburn” (or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect than walking—meaning, your body will continue to burn calories after you’re done exercising until your body returns to its normal resting state. Research published in the The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that the afterburn lasts five minutes longer for runners than it did for walkers.
There is also an ever increasing array of affordable home fitness products available, such as steps, skipping ropes (remember to put your breakables a safe distance away), rebounders (rebounding is considered by NASA to be the “most efficient and effective exercise yet devised by man”), dance mats that you can use with your games console and exercise videos so that you can workout with your favourite celebrity.
Raise your hand if you’re stressed out. OK, OK, put both your hands back down. Most of us swim in a pool of stress every day and that takes a serious toll on our mental and physical health. But science says one of the benefits of walking is it’s one of the fastest, most effective ways to calm down. Moving clears cortisol, the “stress hormone”, out of your system and also helps stop the never-ending stream of worries going through your mind, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology. Here are tricks for getting the most happiness out of your walk.