Taking a 30-minute walk a day is kind of like that proverbial apple: There's a good chance it'll keep the doctor away. From helping you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases—going for regular walks is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health, says Melina B. Jampolis, MD, author of The Doctor on Demand Diet. "Walking is the number one exercise I recommend to most of my patients because it is very easy to do, requires nothing but a pair of tennis shoes, and has tremendous mental and physical benefits," she says. Here's what you can expect when you start walking for just 30 minutes every day, most days of the week.
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.

Aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.[1] "Aerobic" means "relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen",[2] and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism.[3] Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.[1] What is generally called aerobic exercise might be better termed "solely aerobic", because it is designed to be low-intensity enough so that all carbohydrates are aerobically turned into energy.
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There are three phases to speeding up: start to use your toes in a more determined way, as if you’re kicking off the back wall of a swimming pool; then concentrate on your hip lift and hark, your glutes will propel you forward; finally, start to swing your arms, concentrating on the elbows – speeding up your arms will naturally make your walk faster.
If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you will need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes each day. You can still achieve this by starting with smaller bouts of activity throughout the day and increasing these as your fitness improves.
Downstream from the heart are your muscles, which get more efficient at consuming oxygen when you do regular aerobic exercise (remember, "consuming" oxygen means that the muscles are taking the oxygen out of the blood). This happens because of an increase in the activity and number of enzymes that transport oxygen out of the bloodstream and into the muscle. Imagine 100 oxygen molecules circulating past a muscle. You're twice as fit if the muscle can consume all 100 molecules than if it can only consume 50. Another way of saying it is that you're twice as fit as someone if your VO2 max is 60ml/kg/min. and theirs is 30ml/kg/min. In terms of performance in this scenario, you'll have more endurance because your muscles won't run out of oxygen as quickly.
A higher percentage of fat is burned during aerobic exercise than during anaerobic exercise. Here's why. Fat is denser than carbohydrate (fat has nine calories per gram and carbohydrate has four), and so it takes more oxygen to burn it. During aerobic exercise, more oxygen is delivered to the muscles than during anaerobic exercise, and so it follows that a higher percentage of fat is burned during aerobic exercise when more oxygen is available. When less oxygen is present, like during anaerobic exercise, a higher percentage of carbohydrate is burned.
Whether you’re just having a down day or a down life, taking a walk can instantly lift your mood—especially when you go outdoors. Not only can walking make you less depressed, but according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, depression sufferers who took a daily walk showed just as much improvement in their symptoms as people on medication. In fact, 60 to 70 percent of the subjects could no longer even be classified as depressed. And a follow-up study foun5d that the mood boost from the walk lasted longer than that of the medication. Find out exactly how long you should walk if you want a mood boost.

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.
"Just the fact that you are using your arms through a greater range of motion than normal means you burn more calories," says Pocari. On average, people use 20 percent more calories when they use poles. Participants in his studies increased their upper body strength by 40 percent and reduced impact on vulnerable hips, ankles and knees by 26 percent compared with running.

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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’s no word yet on if and when this new calculation will be implemented on a wider scale (or be included in your next Fitbit software update). But for now, keep adding extra steps to your everyday routine by parking your car at the end of the lot, or asking your friend or significant other if you can swap those post-work drinks for a scenic stroll instead (or just do both!).
It should be noted that the MET approach was designed to build a classification system of different activities for research purposes - MET values "do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium." (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities)
Your morning cup of java could actually aid your weight loss efforts. According to the results of a 1990 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, caffeine consumption can increase calorie burn. A second study, published in a 1994 edition of the International Journal of Obesity, found that the consumption of 200 milligrams of caffeine increased calorie burn by 6.7 percent during a three hour period.

If you want to burn more calories while walking, the metabolic equivalents (MET) research that produced these calorie numbers show some ways to do it. You will burn more calories by walking more miles. Going faster at a walking pace has little effect on the calories burned per mile, but it can make a difference because you'll cover more distance in the same amount of time. If you only have 15 minutes or 30 minutes for walking, then going faster is a good strategy.


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).

Aerobic training increases the rate at which oxygen inhaled is passed on from the lungs and heart to the bloodstream to be used by the muscles. Aerobically fit athletes can exercise longer and harder before feeling tired. During exercise they have a slower heart rate, slower breathing rate, less muscle fatigue, and more energy. After exercise, recovery happens more quickly. Aerobic fitness can be measured in a laboratory setting while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle. This is called maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max.


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Metabolic syndrome—the evil trifecta of increased blood pressure/cholesterol, high blood sugar, and fat around your waist—is one of the worst side effects of our sedentary lifestyle. It signals diabetes, heart disease, and even early death. But we have an old-fashioned cure to this modern-day disease: exercise. Any cardio exercise, including walking, can stop metabolic syndrome and even reverse the damage, according to a study published in Circulation. But intensity is the key to revving up your metabolism. Rather than just taking a leisurely stroll, try alternating walking fast and slow.  Here 16 more ways to channel the benefits of walking into weight-loss.

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.
Surgeon General: The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes or more of accumulated moderate intensity physical activity on five or more days per week to improve health and fitness. "Accumulated" means you can do it in shorter bouts throughout the day (for example, 10- or 15-minute intervals throughout the day), and "moderate intensity" means you feel warm and slightly out of breath when you do it. You can read more about the Surgeon General's "lifestyle" recommendation at: www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/sgr.htm.
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
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.
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