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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.
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.
You could increase your calorie burn by drizzling some hot sauce on your food. Hot sauce is made from hot peppers, which contain a spice called capsaicin. According to a 2012 study in the journal Chemical Senses, capsaicin increases both calorie burn and fat burn. Use hot sauce to add some flavor to a chicken breast for a healthy dinner, or mix in some hot sauce to spice up your scrambled eggs.
A study conducted with 17,000 Harvard graduates showed that students who walked for at least 30 minutes every day lived longer than those who were sedentary (17). Walking may or may not activate the telomerase enzyme, which is responsible for maintaining DNA integrity, an important factor in aging, but it helps prevent many age-related problems (18).
The second recommendation is from the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM recommends 20-60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity (biking, walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, etc.) three to five times a week, at 60%-90% of maximum heart rate, and two to three days of resistance training. This is a more formal, "workout" recommendation, although you can also accumulate the more intense workout in bouts of 10-15 minutes throughout the day if you like. Follow this recommendation and your fitness and your health will improve.
Intensity: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning relaxed and 10 thoroughly exhausted, Stein advises starting a walk at level 2 or 3, working up to level 6 to 8, and then cooling down to a 2. "The recommendation is the same for everyone," he says, "because as you get more and more fit, you actually end up having to walk faster or steeper to keep that 6 to 8 up."
Inevitably, this made me a little smug; equally inevitably, it made me tell anyone who’d listen that they, too, should do this amazing thing I was doing. Walking is the only thing I ever evangelise about, because, unlike everything else that makes me feel good (meditation, Jaffa cakes, the fantasy fiction genre, the TV show River and buying a good Flat White) walking is the one thing I truly believe will work for everyone. Anyone who can walk, should walk.
If you like gadgets, you'll love using a pedometer. It's smaller than a cell phone, and you wear a pedometer on your belt to record the number of steps you take. Digital pedometers record not only your steps based on your body's movement but will convert those steps to miles. Some even tell the time and estimate the calories you've burned based on your body weight. Less-sophisticated pedometers simply click off the number of steps taken. The point is that you are walking and tracking your distance.
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
So how many calories are you really torching? “For an average height woman of 130 pounds walking at a typical speed of 2.9 miles per hour, the total energy expended to walk one mile would be 81 kilocalories (kilocalories is the proper name for what most people refer to as calories),” says study co-author Peter Weyand, Ph.D., a biomechanics professor and director of the Locomotor Performance Laboratory at Southern Methodist University. To compare: The old equation predicts you'll burn just 68 calories per mile at 2.9 miles per hour, says Weyand. “For a faster walk of four miles per hour or so, the number of kcals burned increases to about 95 per mile,” he says.
Although the programme started in earnest in 2010, Hall was cooking it up from the time she had to have an appendix operation, while pregnant, four years before that: a graduate from Loughborough University’s famous sports science degree, pioneer of American corporate weight management programmes, she was suddenly in a wheelchair and steadily gaining weight. “It came from a very personal space to heal myself, improve my posture, safeguard my joints, keep my sanity,” she says. WalkActive grew, at first informally when she integrated it into personal training programmes, and then into a system on its own, for which there is now an app, a book and audio coaching, as well as licensed trainers all over the UK. It is full-time work, changing the way people walk.
If you haven’t been active for a while, you may find walking is an easy way to get started. But it will also be important to keep your motivation. Begin slowly and gradually increase how much walking you do. You might find it helps to set yourself goals. There are lots of apps that can count your steps, or you could use a pedometer, so your goals can be specific and measurable.
It's a good idea to plan your intervals in advance. Write them down so that you don't have to think about it while you're working out. I also suggest intervals no more than one to two times per week because they are tough workouts and you will need some time to recover. It's okay to do aerobic activity on days in between your intervals, but give your body a chance to recover from the intervals before doing them again.
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.
Walking also offers plenty of health benefits, including lowering the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes; reducing the risk of developing dementia and cancer and even reducing fibromyalgia pain. Plus, walking may be even more beneficial than running. Walkers have a much lower risk of exercise-related injuries than runners, whose legs absorb about 100 tons of impact force in just one mile. So, if you’re just starting your fitness journey, know that fitness walking is a seriously good place to begin.
No matter what pace feels right, listening to your body and completing a proper warm-up and cool-down are all ways to prevent injuries. That way you can spend more time running on the treadmill—and less time running to the doctor.Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 2008, Mar.;37(12):0112-1642.
Your bones tend to become weaker as you age. But the good news is you can strengthen your bones by walking regularly. This low-impact exercise prevents loss of bone density, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis, fracture, and injury. Since bones determine our framework, stronger and healthier bones help to improve posture, stamina, and balance (9). Walking can also prevent arthritis and reduce the accompanying pain.