When was the last time you took a walk, went for a jog or really went at it and did a run? Personally, I try to get out at least a few times a week to get some form of cardio work in, though I will be honest and say it has been a lot more walking than jogging or running lately. So I wanted to dig in a little bit to understand the health benefits of walking and share the findings with all of you “Prevention Generationers.”
OK, so first things first, none of this is meant to be a diagnosis or to be put into the context of curing any diseases or medical issues you may have, this is just a 40-something year old sharing some learnings in hopes that you can apply it to your life, if appropriate.
When you walk you are carrying your own body weight which inherently makes walking a “weight-bearing” exercise. According to the National Institute for Health, weight bearing exercises offer multiple benefits, all of which revolve around the fact that you are working against gravity.
As you work against gravity on a nice long walk, you are actually increasing your cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness. Even though it may not feel like you are stressing your body on a walk, your heart and lungs are getting a good workout which reduces the risk of a stroke and heart disease.
For someone like me who battles with pre-hypertension (high blood pressure), I am always trying to fight it with diet and exercise. As I have been researching the benefits of walking, I have learned that it not only helps in the management of conditions like high blood pressure, it is also helps manage cholesterol and is considered the best way to promote bone health, especially as you age.
It should be pretty obvious that walking will promote increased muscle strength and endurance, but what if your goal is also to shed a few pounds as well? Can you really lose weight walking? The quick answer is YES! The longer answer is that it all depends on how you do it.
Here is the Prevention Generation Top 10 list to lose weight by walking:
- You will burn about the same amount of calories if you run or walk a mile
- Walking fast burns more calories than walking slow (brisk walk)
- 30 minutes of walking a day burns about 150 calories
- Aim for 2.5 hours a week for the best results
- Do not skip more than one day in a row
- Walk fast enough that you cannot sing a song, but can still speak a sentence
- Find some hills to walk up (you burn more calories!)
- On a day off, do some core work (planks) to built strength
- The first 30 minutes of walking = burning sugars stored as fuel
- After 30 minutes = fat releases from your fat cells and your body burns it for fuel (this is when the magic happens)
There you have it gang. Walking enables us to lose weight–but how long, at what pace and keeping a consistent routine makes all the difference. Professionals say to start off with a 30 minute program, but as you saw in our top 10 list, it is what happens after that half hour that really gets us shedding some fat.
Stay healthy Prevention Generation–and get those steps in!
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