Walking is free, accessible, healthy and sociable. It is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. It’s safe, simple, doesn’t require practice, and the health benefits are many. All you really need to get started is some comfortable shoes and clothing.
Walking, like any other exercise, can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. It will help you:
- Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lose weight
- Improve Mood and Relieve Stress
- Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
- Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
- Stay strong and fit
It is especially good for your heart. A recent Harvard study shows that if you walk at a moderate pace (3 mph) for up to 3 hours a week-or 30 minutes a day you can cut the risk of heart disease in women by as much as 40%.
It’s also a versatile form of exercise that can be done indoors or outdoors. Many malls and public buildings offer walking routes. And you can tailor the intensity of your exercise based upon your individual abilities and goals.
Walking is an aerobic exercise. It also lowers the risk of blood clots, since the calf acts as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart. Thus reducing the load on the heart. It is good for anyone, especially people with arthritis. It’s an endurance exercise. This means it will strengthens your heart, help your lungs work more efficiently and give you more stamina so you don’t tire as easily.
It is not strenuous and involves almost no risk to health. You should, of course, exercise good judgment, not exceed the limits of your condition until you have a good walking program established. You should not walk outdoors during extreme weather periods, also.
Walking is the perfect complement to a sensible diet to lose weight and keep it off.
Target Heart Rate Zone
Walking exercise is very good for women especially. As women prefer light exercise with effective result. That is why this is the perfect one for them. This aerobic exercise is considered moderate when the heart rate falls within the Target Heart Rate Zone, by which the optimal walking speed can be determined. Target Heart rate zone is equal to 50 to 70 % of (220 minus your age).
If you are 50 years old, then your target heart rate is between 85 to 120 heart beats per minute. Athletes try to achieve higher target heart rate of upto 80 % in their fitness activities. For an average individual target heart rate of 60 to 70 % of maximum permissible heart rate (220 minus your age) is advisable.
How Do I start?
Start Slowly. If you have been inactive for a long time or if you tire easily, it is better to start slowly.
Initially you can walk slowly for 10 or 15 or 30 minutes a day for a week, depending upon your comfort level. Adjust your walking speed to your comfort level.
Next week, you may increase your walking duration by 5 to 10 minutes per day. Walking speed also can be moderately increased as per your comfort level.
Research studies ( Ref : Reversing your heart disease by Dr. Dean Ornish ) indicate that it is beneficial for the overall health if one walks for 3 hours per week.( Either 1 hour per day for 3 days per week or 30 minutes every day for 5 days a week ).Health benefits are immense.
Warm up. It is necessary to spend about 5 minutes in walking slowly for first 5 minutes to warm up your body and muscles.
Cool down. It is also necessary to observe cool down period for about 5 minutes at the end of each walking session. This will reduce stress on your heart and muscles.
Set realistic goals. If your goal is to walk two hours a day 365 days a year, you might be setting yourself up to fail. Set realistic goals for yourself, such as 30 minutes per day and five days a week.
And you don’t need to do it all at once. For example, walk for 10 minutes on your lunch break. Walk for another 20 minutes in the evening, totaling 30 minutes a day.
Measure the intensity of your workout. As you walk, measure the intensity of your
workout by checking your heart rate. Knowing your heart rate allows you to increase
the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it.
To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop walking to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate.
Walking is the closest thing to a perfect exercise.
Walking is such an ordinary everyday activity; most people take it for granted. But it’s an excellent natural exercise that can help you stay healthy and live longer. It will keep you happy. You can enjoy time with friends and family & learn more about your local area.