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Walking For Excercise

Walking Can Improve Your Health

We all know that regular exercise is important for long term weight maintenance and also for general health.  When we think of exercise, most people think about heavy workouts in the gym, however, researchers at the Loughborough University School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science have described walking as “almost the perfect form of physical activity”. 

There is evidence that walking can reduce blood pressure, can help to control blood sugar levels and wards off heart disease.  It can also help in combating stress and anxiety.  Researchers found that just increasing walking based exercise by 10% over a few weeks, can produce significant improvements in mood, all round wellness and the greatest effect is seen in those people who had not tended to do much walking previously.  

Some Walking Is Better Than None

Traditionally, people have talked about 10,000 steps per day but this figure hasn’t actually been scientifically established.  It seems to have been plucked at random by a company marketing pedometers back in the 1960’s.  Researchers at Harvard University looking at older women in their 70’s found that 4500 steps a day resulting in 40% lower risk of mortality than those people who only managed 2700.   A recent study from Massachusetts, looking at middle aged men and women found that an average 7000 steps a day resulted in improved quality of sleep.  

Walking as Exercise

To improve fitness levels, you do, however, need to elevate walking beyond a gentle stroll.  You need to pick up the pace so that your pulse rate is elevated and this will count as vigorous activity.  This does offer the opportunity of getting more exercise in a shorter period of time.  Researchers in Japan, looked at interval walking, with a fast walk at 70% of maximum walking speed, enough to make you feel puffed, for 3 minutes, and then walking at 40% of maximum speed for a further 3 minutes and then repeating this 5 times, allowing you to complete a session in about half an hour.  Researchers found a significant improvement in levels of fitness in those who undertook the trial over a 5 month period.  They also found that the benefits peaked at 50 minutes of fast walking bursts a week.  

Best Walking Rates

Brisk walking has also been defined by certain researchers from Massachusetts as about 100 steps per minute.  The easiest way to measure this is to count how many steps you take in 10 seconds and then multiple it by 6.  Other researchers have demonstrated that some exercise can also improve brain function and memory.  

So, the message is, you don’t have to squeeze into your lycra and head to the gym for exercise, going for a short 30 minute walk is sufficient and every little second counts.

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