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.
Your heart beats approximately 60-80 times per minute at rest, 100,000 times a day, more than 30 million times per year, and about 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime! Every beat of your heart sends a volume of blood (called stroke volume -- more about that later), along with oxygen and many other life-sustaining nutrients, circulating through your body. The average healthy adult heart pumps about 5 liters of blood per minute.
 8. Gregg EW, Cauley JA, Stone K, Thompson TJ, Bauer DC, Cummings SR, Ensrud KE. Relationship of changes in physical activity and mortality among older women. J Am Med Assoc 2003: 289 (18): 2379-86. myDr myDr provides comprehensive Australian health and medical information, images and tools covering symptoms, diseases, tests, medicines and treatments, and nutrition and fitness.

I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to keep track and find out how far you normally walk. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around during the day can add up. Plus, it’s motivating to see your steps increase throughout the day, which makes it easier to push yourself a little farther to reach your 10,000-step goal.
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.
OK, so maybe you won’t have the ability to see through walls but you can protect your vision as you age by taking a daily walk, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that people who did regular aerobic activity had healthier eyeballs and were less likely to suffer from problems like retinal degeneration and age-related vision loss. So even if you aren’t Superman, you’ll still have super sight. Find out what your walking style says about your personality.
According to a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, a moderately-paced walk for about 30 to 45 minutes daily can increase the number of immune system cells in your body and over a period of time, it can have really remarkable effect on your body's ability to fight disease. To be more specific, walking at least 20 minutes a day could reduce the risk of getting sicker by almost 43%.
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Long walks help you clear your head, pace your thoughts and calm you down, figuratively speaking. The benefits of walking seem so obvious that they're rarely discussed. We forget how it's great exercise that also helps you tone your legs, shed the extra weight and doesn't need you to have an exclusive gym membership. It quickens your heart beat, circulating more blood and oxygen to your muscles and your organs, including the brain. Experts suggest that brisk walking for 30 minutes at a moderate speed can help you burn 150 to 200 calories.
As you get fit, you burn less calories doing the exact same workout. Shift your walking workout into a higher gear by doing interval training. Start at a warmup pace for a couple minutes and then walk at a brisk pace. Every five minutes, increase your pace to a sprint level, either by speed-walking, running or skipping rope. Maintain this burst of speed for 30 seconds. Return to a slow walk for a minute and then back to your vigorous pace before the next sprint. You dramatically boost your heart rate during the sprints, and it stays raised during the recovery period, resulting in more calories burned.
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.
One way to ensure success is to build some competition into your fastest walks. Or train for a “running” race where you start in the back and don’t worry about your time compared to those around you. “You don’t need to try to win,” Fenton advises. “Merely being part of a racing environment with large numbers of other fitness-minded individuals will guarantee that you get a good workout.” Most runners consider walkers their equals, regardless of when they cross the finish line.

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.

You know how sometimes it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark chocolate to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, going for a walk is a zero-calorie strategy with the same benefits, says Dr. Jampolis. "Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system so much that you'll experience a decrease in anger and hostility," she says. What's more, when you make your walks social—you stride with, say, your partner, a neighbor, or a good friend—that interaction helps you feel connected, says Dr. Jampolis, which boosts mood. Finally, walking outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which can help stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—making it a potential antidote for the winter blues, says Dr. Jampolis.
When running isn't in the cards, walking with added weight might be your next best bet for an effective workout. Research shows that walking on the treadmill while wearing a weighted vest can increase the metabolic costs and relative exercise intensity.The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces. Puthoff ML, Darter BJ, Nielsen DH. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2006, Jun.;38(4):0195-9131. Similarly, increasing the incline on the treadmill makes for a more effective walking workout. A study showed that walking at a slow speed (1.7 mph) on a treadmill at a six-degree incline can be an effective weight management strategy for obese individuals, and help reduce risk of injury to lower extremity joints.Energetics and biomechanics of inclined treadmill walking in obese adults. Ehlen KA, Reiser RF, Browning RC. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2011, Oct.;43(7):1530-0315. And picking up the pace slightly almost always helps. One study found speed walkers had a decreased risk of mortality over their slower counterparts.The relationship of walking intensity to total and cause-specific mortality. Results from the National Walkers' Health Study. Williams PT, Thompson PD. PloS one, 2013, Nov.;8(11):1932-6203.
Select an activity with a high probability that you will stick with it. It doesn't necessarily have to be fun, it just has to be something realistic that you are willing and able to do. You're probably setting yourself up to fail if you work 12 hours a day, take care of three young children, and still plan to use a treadmill at a gym that's a 45-minute commute from where you work or live. Instead, choose something more convenient. I love the "five minutes out, five minutes back" plan to get started. Just like it sounds, you walk out for five minutes at a moderate intensity (aerobic exercise), turn around, and walk back. That's it. Ten minutes of walking and off you go about your day. If you feel ambitious, start with seven and a half or even 10 minutes out and back, and add some abdominal crunches if you like when you finish. Keep in mind that you can always add more later on. The important thing is to get started.

I mentioned that fat and carbohydrate are the fuels our muscles burn. The difference between them is that fat is high-test; it contains 9 calories per gram whereas carbohydrate has only 4, and so you get more energy and can go farther on a gram of fat than on a gram of carbohydrate. You want to burn fat because it's such an efficient fuel, plus it's nice to lose some of your excess fat! The catch is that you need more oxygen to burn fat because it's denser than carbohydrate. The good news is that your body gets better at using oxygen and burning fat when you do regular aerobic exercise; like I described, your heart pumps more blood, your muscles consume more oxygen, and you have more mitochondria.

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.
This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Dr. Jampolis. "As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much," she says. "That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat." Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. "Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older," says Iasevoli. The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. "One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile," she says.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University took a close look at the most common equations used over the past 40 years. And surprise! They found two major problems: First, the sample sizes that these equations were based off of were way too small (only six people for one method), and only included men. Second, this data didn’t take into account that people of different sizes expend energy at different rates (for instance, heavier people burn fewer cals per pound when walking the same distance as those who weigh less). As a result, when the researchers put these two equations to the test, they found that their calorie estimates were too low in a whopping 97 percent of cases.
As well as heart disease, regular fitness walking can impact on the risk of developing type two diabetes, asthma and some cancers. Studies suggest regular exercise such as walking can reduce risk of diabetes by up to 60 per cent. In fact, those who are active have around a 20 per cent lower risk of developing cancer of the colon, breast and womb than those who are less active.
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.
After World War II, non-organized, individualistic, health-oriented physical and recreational activities, such as jogging, began to become popular.[9] The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans, developed by Dr. Bill Orban and published in 1961, helped to launch modern fitness culture.[10][11] There was a running boom in the 1970s, inspired by the Olympics.[12]
Higher intensity exercise, such as High-intensity interval training (HIIT), increases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) in the 24 hours following high intensity exercise,[24] ultimately burning more calories than lower intensity exercise; low intensity exercise burns more calories during the exercise, due to the increased duration, but fewer afterwards.
This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Dr. Jampolis. "As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much," she says. "That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat." Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. "Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older," says Iasevoli. The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. "One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile," she says.
Fidgeting could increase your calorie burn and speed up your weight loss. In 1986, researchers for the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that fidgeting was a large contributor to daily calorie burn. In fact, this type of movement resulted in a calorie burn ranging from 100 to 800 calories per day! Tap your foot to the music on the radio while sitting in the office, or get up and walk back and forth while talking on the phone.

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.
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.
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.
Rowers, treadmills, bikes, and cross-country skiers are all effective if you use them. There is some suggestion that some individuals are more inclined to exercise at home with equipment than at the gym or a class. The activity you choose is a personal choice and it varies for everyone, and so you need to experiment until you find what works best for you. Some individuals prefer to go to the gym while others are perfectly content to work out at home on their own equipment in front of their TV. TV can make the time pass quickly, and so can your favorite movie, music, scholarly courses taught by professors, or books on tape (see resources for online vendors). Finding something that will distract you might just make that 30-minute workout bearable, and believe it or not you might even look forward to it! After all, it could be the only 30 minutes in your day that you have all to yourself. Indulge! Aerobic exercise videos and DVDs are also effective if you use them! They are convenient if you prefer to work out at home instead of taking a class at a studio or a gym, and there are hundreds to choose from. I suggest that you check out Collage Video (http://www.CollageVideo.com), or give them a call and ask for a recommendation. Also check if your local library rents exercise videos on tape or DVD. And by the way, there are videos for all types of activity; from weight training, to tai-chi, to stretching. Check out all the possibilities to add flexibility and strength-building to your cardio workout.
Before starting a walking program, check with your doctor if you have a chronic medical condition or if you have had a recent injury. But don't assume that you aren't able to start exercise walking if you do have medical issues. Exercise walking can help control disease progression and relieve symptoms in people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and many people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal problems will experience symptom relief from a medically supervised exercise walking routine. Exercise is an important part of all weight-loss programs that will help with many chronic medical conditions.