All that oxygen being pumped by the blood is important. You may be familiar with the term "oxygen consumption." In science, it's labeled VO2, or volume of oxygen consumed. It's the amount of oxygen the muscles extract, or consume from the blood, and it's expressed as ml/kg/minute (milliliters per kilogram of body weight). Muscles are like engines that run on fuel (just like an automobile that runs on fuel); only our muscles use fat and carbohydrates instead of gasoline. Oxygen is a key player because, once inside the muscle, it's used to burn fat and carbohydrate for fuel to keep our engines running. The more efficient our muscles are at consuming oxygen, the more fuel we can burn, the more fit we are, and the longer we can exercise.

Here’s what’s happening in your body when you’re running and walking: “Muscle action that propels you from point A to B requires the utilization of a thing called ATP,” explains Janet Hamilton, an exercise physiologist and running coach with RunningStrong. “Your body stores only a limited amount of ATP (enough for only a few seconds of activity), so it needs to replenish that supply, and it does so by metabolizing your stored fuels (glycogen and fat). The process of making useable energy (ATP) from stored fuel (glycogen and fat) is dependent on how much you need and how quickly you need it.” So the more intense the activity, the greater the demand for fuel—and since walking is less intense and demanding than running, it doesn’t demand that ATP be produced at the same rate.
Both recommendations include aerobic exercise, and your health and fitness will improve if you follow either. Choose the Surgeon General's lifestyle recommendation if you are unable or unwilling to follow the ACSM workout recommendation, and stick with the ACSM recommendation if you're already putting in time at the gym or you like the buzz of vigorous exercise. Of course, incorporating lifestyle activity and formal workouts into your exercise plans will give you the best of both worlds.

If you're new to walking, start off with slow, short sessions and build your way up gradually. Do not worry at all about speed in the beginning. After you have been walking for several weeks you can slowly start picking up your pace. If you have a medical condition or any health concerns be sure to check with your doctor for advice before you begin a routine.
Walking is an accessible and easy way for us all to get more active. Brisk walking that raises your heart rate and makes you warm and slightly breathless is a great form of aerobic exercise. Doing this regularly helps you to get fitter so you will find it easier to be more active and get tired less quickly. You may feel more tired in the first week or two after you start. But if you keep it up, you’ll probably find you soon have more energy than when you were inactive.
Now see the effects of taking your walking speed up to brisk walking paces of 4 mph or more. You will burn more calories per mile as you increase your speed, but the biggest factor will still be how much you weigh. One benefit of walking faster is that you can walk farther in the same amount of time. If you walk for a set amount of time, that will mean burning more calories during an exercise session.

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How much good does it do you to get up and walk for a few minutes? Don't be discouraged from walking if you think the number of calories burned is too small. The benefits go beyond burning calories. Simply reducing your sitting time will help keep your muscles, joints, blood circulation, and bones in good working order. By walking more and sitting less throughout the day, you'll burn more calories, reduce your health risks, and do your body good.
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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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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.
“Cardiovascular health is defined by your capacity to exert yourself,” says Nicole Belkin, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Medical Center. “Regular physical activity trains the cardiovascular system to expand the level of demand and increase its capacity. This results in increased blood flow and blood volume to the heart.”
“This has all been scientifically proven,” says Hall. “Dr Darren James, research fellow at South Bank University, has done a study showing all this. WalkActive significantly and statistically improves your posture, increases your walking speed by up to 24%, reduces joint impact, joint stress at the knee and at the ankle and improves your body shape.” It is, unmistakably, a fitness programme, as in, you would undertake it for the same reasons as an aerobics class, to lose weight, or at the very least, redistribute it in a more sightly way. I did several 10-minute walks, and while never out of breath, was certainly more tired at the end than I would normally have been.
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.
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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.
The more I walked, the more thoroughly immersed I became in its how miraculous it was. It calmed me down. I could start my daily tramp in a foul mood: riled by my partner, anxious about a meeting or wrong-footed by a nightmare; sad or scared or emotionally a little lost. By the time I arrived at wherever I was supposed to be: I was fine. Something about walking gives you perspective.
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.
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.
When the weather outside is frightful, many people turn to treadmills. Admittedly, treadmills are boring. Spice up a complete treadmill workout by using elevation to give the sense of a trail. You don't have to follow the preprogrammed courses. Create your own interval training with hills. Make it a mental game. Life isn't automated and your treadmill workout shouldn't be either. Ascend and descend by varying your elevations and speeds.
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.
It can be started slowly (try using a treadmill to moderate your pace) and built up as you feel comfortable. It will help open your airways and make breathing a bit smoother. It will strengthen your lungs and help improve on your breathing and reduce your asthma symptoms. Asthma patients' lungs are more sensitive to cold air or hot air and pollen and other things from the atmosphere. 

Classes can vary in their intensity with some classes more suited to beginners than others — so check first. As with running there’s always the chance of injury to knees or ankles, but a good instructor should ensure you exercise correctly to reduce the risk. You may not need to join a gym full time to take advantage of aerobic classes as many gyms offer casual classes.
1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
Fenton preaches consistency over speed. “In seeking consistency,” he says, “it is most important that walking becomes a regular habit, not something you do on the weekends or when the weather is good. The fitness walker must make a positive commitment to exercise a certain number of days a week over a specific distance or length of time, even if some of those days show fairly modest efforts.” He suggests that easier days can be used when other duties demand your time.
Whatever your preferred exercise intensity, it’s also important to choose activities that you enjoy and will stick with over the long term. Walking, biking, hiking, dancing, and gardening are all great forms of aerobic exercise that you can easily integrate into your day. After all, aerobic exercise can greatly improve your health even if you perform it in shorter segments throughout the day.
“Walking can be as good as a workout, if not better, than running,” says Dr. Matt Tanneberg, CSCS, a sports Chiropractor and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in Phoenix, Arizona who works with elite athletes. “You hear of people 'plateauing' when they continue to do the same workout routine and stop seeing results. I see patients all the time that plateau from running, they will run the same distance, speed and time, day in and day out. You need to constantly be switching up your exercise routine in order to get the maximum benefit for your health.”
Sometimes there's nothing like a good stretch to relax the mind and body after an aerobic workout. Take five or 10 minutes after aerobic exercise and treat yourself and stretch. If you tend to have tight muscles all the time and stretching at the end doesn't quite do it for you, then try warming up for five minutes to get the muscles filled with blood, stop and stretch, and then continue with your workout. You might really like the feeling.

At this point, you have to suspend your disbelief and try it. The concentration it requires beggars belief. Hall says at one point, “it’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy – it takes a lot of brain power”. I didn’t believe her for one second, but of course it was true. Even chatting at the same time as having an active foot was a challenge. Having an active foot and a hip lift was like trying to do a sudoku while listening to Motörhead.

Chronic pain has been called a silent epidemic, with an estimated 100 million Americans currently living with it. And if you’re one of those people battling daily pain the last thing you probably want to do is get up and go for a walk. But researchers found that moderate walking improved chronic pain in people, both in the short term and the long run, even if the underlying condition remained uncured. The pain relief benefits of walking may not be able to cure chronic pain, but it can help you deal with it better. Learn the creative way to keep walking when the weather is cold.


Aerobic exercise involves regular body part (e.g., arms or legs) movements that increase workload on the cardiovascular system. It is convenient and useful to think of the intensity of aerobic exercises in metabolic equivalents, or METs. One MET represents the amount of energy used at rest, and two METs is twice that much energy expenditure per unit of time, and so on. Aerobic exercise is widely recommended in contemporary guidelines. However, guidelines also indicate that exercise regimens are contraindicated in patients with unstable cardiovascular conditions, including but not limited to uncontrolled severe hypertension (BP ≥ 180/110 mm Hg). Conditions under which stress testing should be performed before initiation of an exercise regimen have been described.37
“Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in America,” says Dan G. Tripps, PhD, the chief operating officer and director of exercise science for Speck Health, a lifestyle medicine practice in Seattle. “Associated with physical inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately a quarter of all U.S. deaths. (3)
And there’s more good news: walking burns calories! The exact numbers will depend on your weight. But if you walk briskly at about 6.4km per hour (4 miles per hour) for half an hour, you could use up around 150 calories. It’s probably equal to playing casual badminton for the same length of time. And it’s more than half the number of calories in the average chocolate bar!
This walking calorie burn calculator estimates the calories that you burn while walking any given distance. The calculator takes into consideration the grade of the walking surface that you are on (i.e. the incline or decline), your weight, and the total walking distance and walking time. The incline or decline of the walking surface is taken into consideration because more calories are burned as the incline of the walking surface increases, and less calories are burned as the decline of the walking surface increases. You can read more about the method and equations used to determine calorie burn below the calculator.
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.”
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