In 2007, Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, published an updated report on physical activity and public health. In order to make a recommendation on the amount of exercise necessary to benefit America's health, an expert panel of scientists, including physicians, epidemiologists, exercise scientists, and public-health specialists reviewed research on physical activity and the impact of exercise on health.
Walking might not have the same visual appeal as high-intensity interval training or step aerobics, but this simple exercise can be an efficient way to burn calories. Whether you're anxious to shed a few pounds or are just keen to avoid the middle-age spread, walking several times per week (in combination with a healthy diet, of course) can burn thousands of calories to help keep the excess pounds at bay. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen, even a light one.
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.
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.
Running and racewalking burn more calories per mile. Running burns more calories per mile than walking, likely due to the effort of the lift phase, which raises both feet off the ground at the same time during running. You can burn more calories by adding running intervals to your walking workouts. With the racewalking technique, you use more muscles during a stride compared with regular walking or running and that results in burning more calories per mile.
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
7. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 1996. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/summary.htm
3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.
“The 10,000 steps goal is thought to be a realistic minimum, and it’s good, but for complete risk reduction, people should aim for more,” says William Tigbe, M.D., Ph.D., a physician and public health researcher at University of Warwick and lead author of the study showing that 15,000 steps per day can lead to greater benefits. “In our study, those who took 5,000 extra steps had no metabolic syndrome risk factors at all.”
Their conclusion was the same as the plea issued by the Surgeon General: "Every U.S. adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, or preferably all, days of the week." The researchers determined that intermittent as well as sustained activity can be beneficial. In other words, on days when you can't fit in a 30-minute walk, you can still garner fitness benefits by taking two or more shorter walks squeezed in throughout the day. This may seem somewhat confusing to those of you who are well acquainted with previous recommendations to exercise for a sustained period of 20 to 60 minutes. The Surgeon General's report is not meant to overshadow or replace these previously recommended exercise guidelines.
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.
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The thinking has also changed somewhat on whether there’s a threshold minimum workout duration required to reap cardiovascular health benefits from aerobic activity. HHS’s new physical activity guidelines eliminated the long-standing recommendation that exercise had to last at least 10 minutes to count toward your daily total. (4) The new guidelines emphasize that small bouts of activity throughout the day can add up to big health benefits.
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Also known as a cooling vest or ice vest, the revolutionary vests must be used appropriately for you to experience the best results. You need to use it only when you are at a comfortable temperature. Examples of these scenarios are sitting in your car, watching a football game, driving, working in the office or resting in a room or in an outdoor area when not exercising.
Another American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average nine pounds less) than couch potatoes as they got older. Last year, researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).
Every session of aerobic exercise should include a warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up period should not include static stretching, but should instead be a gradual increase in pace and intensity of the exercise. This allows for the body to increase blood flow to the muscles, and decreases the likelihood of a muscle or joint injury. The warm-up should last between 5 and 10 minutes. The cool-down session should last a similar amount of time as the warm-up, with the pace gradually decreasing. Stretching exercises would be appropriate after aerobic exercise.
Health ToolsCalories Burned Calculator Calories Burned Calculator Find out how many calories you burn doing different activities. The calculator uses the type of physical activity and your basal metabolic rate to calculate calories burned, so gives a personalised result. Knowing roughly how many calories you expend doing different activities can help you with weight loss or maintenance.