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.
myDrReferences 1. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998; 30: 975-91. Available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/1998/06000/ACSM_Position_Stand__The__Recommended_Quantity_and.32.aspx
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.
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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.
When it comes to losing or managing weight, calories come into play. And it’s not just the calories you consume through food that matter – it’s the calories you burn through activity, those you burn while digesting and assimilating food (thermic effect of food), and the ones you burn each day (basal metabolic rate) just to maintain basic bodily function.
That’s because the body requires energy to recover from exercise. “The greater the intensity and volume, the more calories will be burned after the exercise is completed,” explains Iain Hunter, a professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. When exercising, you burn some of your stored fuels; replenishing those stores takes energy. Your body uses energy to repair any microdamage from exercise as well. Plus, “along with caloric expenditure, there are many other benefits to higher intensity exercise, such as increased bone density, improved strength and endurance, more resilient cartilage and other tissues that degrade over time, and psychological health.”
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.