The weather is finally warming up and today is National Walking Day. (The American Heart Association sponsors this day to remind people about the health benefits of taking a walk.) What better way to celebrate than by getting outside, breathing some fresh air and taking a walk? Walking is often overlooked as an option for cardiovascular exercise, however, if done correctly, walking can provide a number of health benefits. Not to mention it’s generally easier on our joints and it’s free!
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends the average person gets “30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week.”
Moderate physical activity can be defined as brisk walking where you are still able to carry a conversation. Your heart rate should be somewhere between 50-70% of your max predicted heart rate. And you should accumulate 150-300 min of activity per week. (30-60min 5 days/week)
Vigorous activity requires a lot more energy to complete. You should only be able to talk in short phrases and your heart rate range should be somewhere between 70-85% of max predicted heart rate. Vigorous physical activity should accumulate 75-150 min of activity per week. (20-30min 3-4days/ week)
Multiple 10 minute exercise bursts (of moderate to vigorous intensity) spread out throughout the day has also been proven to be just as effective as a continuous 20-60 minutes of exercise. So if you can’t find a chunk of time to string together, try two to three 10 minute sessions throughout the day. (I.e. before your shower, lunchtime and before bed)
Benefits of 30-60 minutes /day walk:
Lower blood pressure and strengthened heart
Decrease in loss of bone mass
Improved mood from released endorphins
Weight loss (if accompanying diet is healthy)
Improved immune function-decreased chance of getting sick, and if you do get sick, symptoms are generally more mild and shorter in duration.
Slowing in mental decline/Alzheimer’s risk
Eased joint pain -walking protects joints and lubricates and strengthens muscles supporting them.
So if running or jumping on a stationary machine isn’t your thing, give walking a try. Grab a friend to chat with or your dog and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air!