Walk This Way to a Healthier Lifestyle
It’s a fact: more than 80% of Americans do not get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. That's a bummer because regular moderate exercise can prevent risk factors for diseases like high blood pressure and obesity, and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Granted, busy schedules and other distractions can make it hard to stay active. However, the US surgeon general suggests one simple way to fit exercise into your day is to get walking. Walking doesn’t require special skills or equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. The Washington Post checked in with several health and fitness experts who offered some useful tips if you’re ready to get stepping:
Get the right amount. While the government recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, many experts recommend 30 minutes per day to see benefits like increased muscle-to-fat ratio and decreased risk for metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body fat around the waist, which all increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke).
Count all of it. You don’t have to do your 30 minutes all at once—you can walk throughout the day. Choose to take the stairs instead of the escalator or park farther away from your bus stop to get in some extra steps. A pedometer can help keep you on track. 10,000 steps per day is a good goal to start with; it’s roughly over 5 miles and is more than 30 minutes of exercise.
Give yourself a boost. When you’re ready to step up your workout, add intensity to increase the calories you burn or improve speed and strength. Some people do this with hand weights or interval training. For interval training, alternate your usual pace with periods of speed walking or change the terrain by climbing stairs or hills.