Getting a solid eight hours snoozing in the sack is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Thankfully a brisk walk is basically Ambien, minus the pill (and the scary sleep-walking stories). In a large meta-analysis of sleep studies, researchers found that regular walkers had longer and better quality sleep. And for those unlucky few who still had insomnia? Walking helped reduce the number of sleepless nights they experienced. Find out which side of the road is safest for walking and why.
On the other hand, some people like to know with more precision how their body is doing during exercise. If that's the case for you, then taking your heart rate during exercise and using a target heart rate training zone might be just the ticket. Target heart rate zones range anywhere from 50% to 100% of your maximum heart rate (your maximum heart rate is based on your age). Aerobic exercise is anything less than 85%, and anaerobic exercise is anything above that. A nice starting point for a sedentary individual is somewhere in the range from 50% to 65% (you can always increase as you get more fit) and 65% to 85% for more conditioned individuals.

Here’s what’s happening in your body when you’re running and walking: “Muscle action that propels you from point A to B requires the utilization of a thing called ATP,” explains Janet Hamilton, an exercise physiologist and running coach with RunningStrong. “Your body stores only a limited amount of ATP (enough for only a few seconds of activity), so it needs to replenish that supply, and it does so by metabolizing your stored fuels (glycogen and fat). The process of making useable energy (ATP) from stored fuel (glycogen and fat) is dependent on how much you need and how quickly you need it.” So the more intense the activity, the greater the demand for fuel—and since walking is less intense and demanding than running, it doesn’t demand that ATP be produced at the same rate.


Start exercising: Many exercise programs say to talk to your doctor before starting. Certain people with specific medical conditions may want to check with their doctor before becoming physically active, however; most people can start a simple walking program without problems. Even those recovering from heart attacks are encouraged to walk treadmills in cardiac rehabilitation programs.
“Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in America,” says Dan G. Tripps, PhD, the chief operating officer and director of exercise science for Speck Health, a lifestyle medicine practice in Seattle. “Associated with physical inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately a quarter of all U.S. deaths. (3)
How to measure progress: Other than simply feeling great and watching the scale, you can actually measure what walking is doing for your body. Before you begin your activity program, have your doctor check your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose (high levels can be a sign of early or undiagnosed diabetes), and your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a number that reflects your height-to-weight ratio (simply take your weight in pounds, multiply by 703 and divide by your height in inches squared -- keep this number under 25 for optimal health).
Chronic pain has been called a silent epidemic, with an estimated 100 million Americans currently living with it. And if you’re one of those people battling daily pain the last thing you probably want to do is get up and go for a walk. But researchers found that moderate walking improved chronic pain in people, both in the short term and the long run, even if the underlying condition remained uncured. The pain relief benefits of walking may not be able to cure chronic pain, but it can help you deal with it better. Learn the creative way to keep walking when the weather is cold.

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"By adding some variables into the mix you can turn a simple walk into a fun, fast interval session, burning a high level of calories, and in turn, crushing your fat cells,” adds Rob McGillivray, Founder of RETROFIT in West Hollywood. “Essentially we burn the most calories by repeatedly raising and lowering the heart rate, as opposed to keeping the heart rate at one steady pace, whether that be high or low. So, if you were to compare the heart rate fluctuations of someone walking up a mixture of steep hills and then add in variations of walking speeds, styles of walking (such as lunging, striding, side cross overs, etc.) to that of someone primarily running at a medium pace on a level gradient, you could see greater all round results on both your body's caloric burn and a greater degree of lower limb muscle groups being targeted. It is also said that hill walking, as opposed to running on a level gradient, can enable you to burn more fat without attacking lean muscle tissue.”
With everything else in place – your hips lifted, your neck long and straight – the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder should be liberated and your arms should shuffle themselves quite freely and intuitively into the right movement pattern. Except that it’s not quite that simple: if you want to use them as agents of acceleration, and you do, you have to use more deliberation. Move your arms across to the centre of your body and then quite far back.
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.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in America,” says Dan G. Tripps, PhD, the chief operating officer and director of exercise science for Speck Health, a lifestyle medicine practice in Seattle. “Associated with physical inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately a quarter of all U.S. deaths. (3)
Only one day – as is not entirely unusual – my bus simply did not come. I waited and I waited, and I waited some more, my blood pressure rising, spitting and swearing and huffing and puffing over the unimaginable injustice of a BUS THAT WOULD NOT COME, alongside gathering hoards of similarly frustrated non-passengers… Then, after 20 minutes, spurred onwards by a desire to demonstrate I simply would not stand for such abysmal service! - I walked.

These electrons have powerful antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences. For example, one scientific review published in the "Journal of Environmental and Public Health" concluded that grounding (walking barefoot on the earth) could improve a number of health conditions, including the following:15
The average sedentary adult will reach a level of oxygen consumption close to 35 ml/kg/minute during a maximal treadmill test (where you're asked to walk as hard as you can). Translated, that means the person is consuming 35 milliliters of oxygen for every kilogram of body weight per minute. That'll get you through the day, but elite athletes can reach values as high as 90 ml/kg/minute! How do they do it? They may have good genes for one, but they also train hard. And when they do, their bodies adapt. The good news is that the bodies of mere mortals like the rest of us adapt to training too. Here's how.
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No study has been more conclusive about the role of lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) in preventing diabetes than the Diabetes Prevention Program. It was a study of more than 3,000 individuals at high risk for diabetes who lost 12-15 pounds and walked 150 minutes per week (five 30-minute walks per day) for three years. They reduced their risk of diabetes by 58%. That's significant considering there are 1 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed each year. Aerobic exercise can also improve insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body doesn't use insulin properly, and this condition can occur in individuals who do and do not have diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that helps the cells in the body convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Many studies have shown the positive effects of exercise on insulin resistance. In one, 28 obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes did aerobic exercise for 16 weeks, three times per week, for 45-60 minutes, and their insulin sensitivity improved by 20%.

Whatever makes you feel comfortable is the easy answer. There is no need for fancy spandex or workout clothes, unless that’s what you like. As you start moving farther and faster, you may want to get dedicated fitness walking clothes that wick away sweat or allow you to layer for different weather conditions, but for a beginning fitness walker, comfort trumps everything else.


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.
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

This article provides some general guidelines to help you improve aerobic fitness and gain the many health benefits associated with it. Because everyone has individual health needs and concerns, the fitness suggestions here may not be the best approach for you. The most important thing is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and to stick with it.
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If you currently praise coffee for keeping your digestive system going strong, get ready to start thanking your morning walk instead. That's because a regular walking routine can greatly improve gastric mobility, says Tara Alaichamy, DPT, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. "One of the very first things an abdominal surgery patient is required to do is to walk because it utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system," she says. (Check out these 7 things your poop says about your health.)
When the weather outside is frightful, many people turn to treadmills. Admittedly, treadmills are boring. Spice up a complete treadmill workout by using elevation to give the sense of a trail. You don't have to follow the preprogrammed courses. Create your own interval training with hills. Make it a mental game. Life isn't automated and your treadmill workout shouldn't be either. Ascend and descend by varying your elevations and speeds.
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