Raise your hand if you’re stressed out. OK, OK, put both your hands back down. Most of us swim in a pool of stress every day and that takes a serious toll on our mental and physical health. But science says one of the benefits of walking is it’s one of the fastest, most effective ways to calm down. Moving clears cortisol, the “stress hormone”, out of your system and also helps stop the never-ending stream of worries going through your mind, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology. Here are tricks for getting the most happiness out of your walk.
Harvard Medical School notes that walking is an ideal form of exercise because of its simplicity. While other exercises can take a period of adjustment that can occasionally be frustrating, walking is a natural movement that doesn't require you to be a finely tuned athlete. The benefits of aerobic exercise, notes the Cleveland Clinic, include more cardiovascular endurance, better lung capacity and a lower risk of heart-related ailments. Exercises such as walking also help you to manage your stress.
“I like to say that running is a gift. Not everyone gets that gift. If you’re one of the ones who has been gifted with the ability to run and enjoy it, then treasure that gift. Nurture it and never ever take it for granted,” says Hamilton. “But walking is a wonderful activity and for those who don’t have the ability or desire to run, it can provide huge health benefits. The difference in calorie burn between briskly walking a mile and slowly running a mile is minimal—the more noticeable difference is how long it took you to cover the distance. Walking builds and maintains lower extremity and core strength, helps clear your mind, and, for runners, it’s a great way to have an active recovery day.”
While you may want to set up your own individual goals and routes, walking can also be a social occasion, be it through a walking group or through striding out with like-minded souls. It can also help fight off feelings of isolation and loneliness. A survey by the charity Mind found 83 per cent of people with mental health issues look to exercise to help lift their mood.
Most activities can be performed aerobically or anaerobically. For example, you could walk briskly on the treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour and feel warm and slightly out of breath (aerobic), or you could walk very briskly at 4.5 miles per hour and feel very out of breath (anaerobic). The same is true for biking, swimming, dancing, or virtually any other activity. The intensity of the workout determines whether an activity is aerobic or anaerobic, and all you need to do is pace yourself to elicit the type of training you desire.
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Aquatic exercise programs are an alternative for people with rheumatologic conditions because the buoyancy of water helps reduce loading on joints and thus makes it easier for patients with arthritis or fibromyalgia to exercise. These programs can include a combination of limb movements against water resistance and walking or jogging in the pool. Several studies of aquatic programs have reported improvements in pain, muscle strength, aerobic capacity, self-report and performance-based measures of function, daytime fatigue, anxiety, and depression.34,35,37
If you are new to walking, you cannot walk for long distances immediately. So, break up your walking routine. Start by walking 10 minutes every day. Gradually increase this duration to 30 minutes a day. Then, you can walk 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. You should also gradually increase the pace of your walking. When you are comfortable enough, you can try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Take necessary breaks in between. And, of course, keep yourself hydrated.
The last thing I noticed, was how much walking helps with the writing process. There’s been research into this, too; into the synchronicity between walking and writing. Joyce walked, Wordsworth walked; so did Virginia Woolf. Dickens used to walk 20 miles a day, which makes me feel… competitive. Walking, researchers believe, helps with memory and promotes new connections in the brain. It definitely shifts whatever writer’s block I have ever experienced; if I ever get stuck: I just go for a walk. Walking always fixes it.
Some of the most interesting and overwhelming evidence supporting the need to be physically active is from the research being conducted at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, known as the "father of aerobics," founded the Cooper Clinic in the early 1970s to investigate the effects of physical activity and fitness on health and longevity and to help people develop healthy lifestyles.
When comparing the results of the most recent National Runners’ Health Study with the National Walkers’ Health Study, researchers found that the energy used for moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease over the study’s six year period.
Walking programs have generally been studied for effectiveness. The Ottawa Panel recently concluded that aerobic walking combined with stretching and strengthening exercises, education, or behavioral programs is recommended to improve pain relief, functional status, and the quality of life of adult individuals with OA.32 Cycling is another form of aerobic exercise that can be beneficial. Low-intensity cycling was shown to be as effective as high-intensity cycling in improving function and gait, decreasing pain, and increasing aerobic capacity in subjects with knee OA.36 Cycling should be considered for those with arthritis who may have difficulty with a walking program because of joint pain.
Can you up those numbers? The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn, no matter the activity—that’s because it takes more energy to move more weight. If you’re specifically looking to up calorie burn, adding a 20-pound weighted vest would up your calorie burn to 8.7 and 15.1 per minute for walking and running, respectively. It’s simple physics: “The majority of calories burned in running [or walking] comes from supporting body weight while moving up and down,” says Hunter. “With more weight, there will be a greater energy cost in doing this due to a greater gravitational force.”
All of this is moot until you’ve started using an active foot; before that, hip flexors just dominate, accruing all the power and then not knowing what to do with it. It all sounds pretty straightforward but also, impossible: how can it be that simple, that one minute you start thinking of your back foot as Velcro, and the next, you have activated the right muscles, in the right way, in the right sequence?
Meta-analyses and reviews are useful for getting an overall sense of the many studies of aerobic exercise and BP. A 2007 meta-analysis of the effects of endurance exercise on BP found that exercise significantly reduced resting and daytime ambulatory BP.38 A more recent review (2010) found again that regular aerobic exercise lowered clinical BP.39 In both the 2007 meta-analysis and the 2010 review, aerobic exercise appeared to reduce BP more in patients with hypertension compared with those without hypertension. Five small studies in women systematically reviewed in 2011 showed a nonsignificant change in BP in response to aerobic interval training of walking. Walking programs appeared to reduce BP in some 9/27 trials reviewed in 2010. Larger trials with increased intensity or frequency of exercise for longer periods tended to be the ones that showed a significant effect.40 The authors concluded that further high-quality trials are needed. The most comprehensive and latest meta-analysis of all types of exercise clearly demonstrates the ability of aerobic exercise to lower BP within 8 to 12 weeks.41 In 105 trials, endurance exercise significantly lowered BP by 3.5/2.5 mm Hg. The effect was much larger in patients with preexisting hypertension (−8.3/6.8 mm Hg).
Studies have shown that (1) microbial community composition may play an important role in xenobiotic processing in soil and other soil processes (Cavigelli and Robertson, 2000; Balser et al., 2002) and (2) the microbial communities residing at depth are not simply diluted analogs of the surface microbial communities, but exhibit considerable differentiation (Ghiorse and Wilson, 1988; Fritze et al., 2000; Blume et al., 2002). In fact, the microbial communities in the soil subsurface may function differently from those at different depths. Aerobic microbes predominated the surface soil or soil rich in moisture and oxygen, whereas anaerobic microbes predominated the deep soil (Li et al., 2014a; Fierera et al., 2003; Blume et al., 2002).
Walking is one of the most rewarding lifelong activities you can choose. While it may not be a huge calorie burner — the average person burns about 100 calories or so per mile — adding more mileage to your day can make a big difference in weight control. According to Harvard Health Watch, one 2009 study found the average person gains about 2.2 pounds a year during middle age. However, over 15 years of research, the study found that individuals who walked regularly gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t.
You need hand-eye coordination to punch a pad or punching bag so it may be trickier than you think — but you’ll soon improve with regular practice. You won’t get a black eye because there’s no combat involved, but there’s a risk of injury to hands and wrists if you’re punching a pad or punching bag. Many gyms provide boxing mitts, however you’ll need to bring your own cotton gloves to wear inside.
High intensity interval training, which involves alternating periods of intense effort with recovery periods, can help you blast away calories. In 2014, researchers for the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, & Metabolism found that a 20-minute high intensity interval training workout boosted metabolism just as much as 50 minutes of cycling at a steady pace during the 24 hours following the exercise. In the study, participants in the interval training group cycled at a sprint pace for 60 seconds and then recovered for 60 seconds following each sprint. Add high intensity interval training to your routine to increase your metabolism in less time!
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.
Walking helps you get fitter and means your body gets better at using oxygen, so you find it easier to be more active and tire less quickly. Getting active releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins into the bloodstream, and getting that natural high reduces stress and anxiety and ultimately helps to build self-esteem. That’s got to be a good thing!
The biggest variable in burning calories walking is how far you walk and how much you weigh. Going faster will allow you to go farther and therefore burn more calories in a set period of time. But you will burn approximately the same calories per mile over a wide range of walking speed. Running can burn more calories per mile as it includes lifting the body off the ground.
Invest in good shoes. Since these are the only expense and equipment you'll need, pay attention to the fit and quality of your shoes. Shoes should fit when you try them on without any areas of pinching or pressure that could cause blisters or calluses. Wear the type of socks you'll wear when walking when you purchase your shoes, and remember that you'll likely need a larger-sized shoe than you normally wear if you plan to wear thick socks. Shoes should have good arch support and a slightly elevated heel with stiff material to support the heel when walking and prevent wobbling. Trekking poles or other accessories may also help, depending upon the climate and terrain where you'll be walking.