Walk Your Way to Wellness

If you’re anything like the majority of the population, you probably spend most of your day sitting at a desk, in a car or on a couch. However, studies are increasingly finding that having a sedentary lifestyle might be a bigger threat than most people think. The best way to fight this dangerous lifestyle is to get moving!

Doctors now recommend patients spend a minimum of 30 minutes daily engaging in some type of physical activity. There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all. It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.

Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. In addition, if you add an extra 30 minutes to complete an hour of walking daily, you can cut your risk of obesity by 24% and reduce your risk of high blood pressure by up to 27%.

Walking is as simple as it gets for exercise. All you need is a good, supportive pair of walking shoes.

For some easy ways to incorporate more walking into your daily life, try walking around while you’re on the phone, parking in the back of a parking lot, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

“Just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life,” says Timothy Gardner, former President of the American Heart Association.

Take a Stroll

  • “Start walking three times a week at a stroll for 20 minutes,” says Courtenay Schurman, author of “The Outdoor Athlete.”
  • Work your way up to approximately five sessions a week, 30 minutes per session, for a total of two and a half to three hours per week.

Gauge Your Goals

  • Choose your distance and time. Some walkers focus on distance, others target time.
  • “Ultimately, it’s about speed,” Schurman says, “if you can walk 5 miles but it takes you 5 hours to do it, it’s not a fit level of work. So use both distance and time as well as heart rate.”

Test Your Ticker

  • You can either check your pulse or wear a heart rate monitor to find the heart rate you should be aiming for while you’re walking.
  • Try the “talk test” to gauge your exercise intensity, “if you can string together six to eight words or chat briefly, you’re in your aerobic zone,” Schurman says.