Walking: Exercise for everyone By Tina Juan
MANILA , Philippines - walking is the easiest, safest and most natural form of exercise. It is an effective exercise for people of all ages and all levels of health.
Studies have shown that regular, brisk walking can lower cholesterol levels, stimulate circulation, strengthen the heart, and decrease high blood pressure.
It reduces the risk of developing serious health problems like diabetes, osteoporosis (brittle bones), and heart diseases.
Walking strengthens and tones the lower body especially when done on an inclined surface. It increases one's endurance particularly if there is progression of difficulty. It also reduces stress and depression and increases the sense of well-being.
Walking contributes to effective weight control. Numerous studies show that a person who walks 10,000 steps a day can burn 2,000-3,500 (equivalent to one pound of fat) extra calories a week.
For weight loss, it is now recommended to complete 10,000-15,000 steps a day.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center reported that walking 10-12 miles per week can prevent weight gain, decrease waist size and increase lean body mass of physically inactive people.
According to the book "The Fidget Factor" by Frank and Victor Katch, walking on the job for one hour at less than 3.2 kilometers per hour (slow pace) can burn 108 calories for a 110-pound person, 144 calories for a 150-pounder, and 192 calories for a 203-pounder. This is approximately equivalent to 4,000 steps, 3.2 kilometers.
The heavier the person is and the faster he/she walks, the more calories can be burned in one hour. The number of steps completed would depend on one's stride length. Lifestyle walking is the most frequently performed type. It is what people do when they get up from bed and move, walk around, or take a stroll in the park.
This kind of walking is low-intensity. It is different from fitness walking that is designed to increase the heart rate and help burn extra calories.
The amount and duration of lifestyle walking that a person does might depend on several factors:
A study by the American Council on Exercise examined on-the-job physical activities of 10 common occupations in the United States. Secretaries were shown to walk only an average of 4,327 steps per day ( 2.7 km) as compared to mail carriers at 18,904 steps (12 km).
Based on lifestyle assessments I conducted, an average Filipino office worker, unaware of lifestyle walking recommendations, can only complete 1,000-4,000 steps/day.
If your job requires you to sit for eight hours, try to insert at least 30 minutes of accumulated or continuous walk within duty hours. You can further increase your walking after work either inside the mall or in your village. Purchase a pedometer to monitor your steps.
It is not surprising to find out that some well-off individuals with cars and drivers can just finish up to 1,000 steps/day. The effort to walk more for health has been replaced by convenience. But commuters can have an additional 2,000-5,000 steps a day.
For those living in secure villages, try to walk early morning or at night outside your house and try to complete at least 5,000 steps/day.
Asians living in countries like Hong Kong and Singapore are known for their flavorful dishes. They love to eat, yet they do not get fat because they love to walk in a walk-friendly environment.
When I had my vacation in Singapore, I was able to complete an average of 24,000 steps/day. Based on my stride length, that is equivalent to 21.8 km/day!
Due to unpredictable weather and physical conditions in our country, I advise mall walking on weekends. For office people working in the Makati area, you can try to use the Ayala walkway.
Did you know that from the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation plaza to Landmark department store, using the walkway, you can complete 2,500 steps? Now is the time to explore your location and find the safest and most convenient places to walk.
Intention to lose weight
Usually, a person who is motivated to lose weight will intentionally increase daily target steps. Daily steps can even be doubled once educated about their effect on faster weight loss. But the amount of additional steps will be based on existing exercise programs and target calories to burn per week.
I had a client who lost 20 pounds in three months. He only did 10,000-12,000 steps daily combined with strength training at home twice a week.
Identify your goals and set a target distance or number of steps per day. An accumulated 5,000-8,000 steps during the day is good enough to improve or maintain health.
Its benefits will be more evident if you switch to fitness walking where there is progression in speed, intensity and duration.
You need to walk more to burn more!
[NOTE by Hoda Nassef: Walking IS really the best, cheapest AND safest exercise! I know that by personal experience. However, I also advise women with varicose veins NOT to jog, as it may cause some fine veins to erupt; thus aggravating an already unpleasant-looking, if not painful, situation! I heard also some women complain that jogging actually CAUSED some varicose veins to appear! Therefore, it is better to WALK, and healthier - even without any varicose. And, once they appear, there is no way to make them disappear. Wearing thick ugly stockings is a giveaway, and ugly. I doubt that it will cure the veins, and I also strongly doubt that it is a way to avoid more varicose veins. On the contraty; to me it seems that restricting the natural flow of blood, in any unnatural way, will only cause problems or elevate them if there are already some minor problems. So, it is always better to be 'safe than sorry'!]: (By Hoda Nassef)…WALKING is actually the best exercise for your health – and for