Walk Your Way to Good Health

Health, Home & Family
on July 30, 2000

Heart disease caused by high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, or a sedentary lifestyle threatens the lives of one in four American adults, but you can reclaim good health in a simple, inexpensive way: Get moving.

Exercise, such as walking, is every bit as crucial to getting your heart in good shape as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, or body weight, says the American Heart Association.

And its never too late to start. People who increase physical activity during adulthood reduce their risk to the level of those who have been active for many years, research suggests. Moderate activity protects against coronary heart disease as well as other chronic ailments such as hypertension, adult-onset diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and depression.

Activities can include taking the stairs rather than the elevator, gardening, raking leaves, dancing, and walking part of the way to or from work. One excellent way to meet the standard is to walk two miles briskly.

Walking can be done almost anywhere, at any time. It results in more energy, relaxation, better sleep, stronger muscle tone, appetite control, and increased calorie burn.

Women who regularly engage in brisk walking reduce their risk of heart disease to the same degree as women who engage in vigorous exercise. Make sure the exercise is at least of moderate intensity, equivalent to walking 3 to 4 mph.

Break your walk into three speeds. Walk slowly for five minutes; increase your speed for the next five to 30 minutes. Finally, cool down by walking slowly again for five minutes. If you have been sedentary for a long time, start gradually. Add two to three minutes per week to the fast walk. If you walk less than three times per week, increase the fast walk more slowly.

Dont let the excuse, I dont have time to exercise keep you from walking to good health. It takes a lot more time to treat heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis.