I will never forget the evening my husband and I were out to dinner and next to us was a couple we both decided were on their first date. Both of them would easily fit in the obese category. They started talking about working out and one said to the other that there really was no point because to get any benefits you had to work way too hard. Of course, my husband had to hold me down as I wanted to crawl over our table and set the story straight. Research continues to show that you don’t have to work to complete exhaustion to get health benefits and walking is one of the easiest paths to fitness.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) taking a stroll is an easy way for the obese to increase aerobic fitness and weight loss. These benefits were shown by just walking at a low intensity of 50% of max heart rate. “Obese patients have more body mass to move, causing the heart and cardiovascular system to have to work harder than a normal-weight person’s would,” Thomas Spring, M.S., said. “Walking is a great way for the overweight and obese to begin an exercise program, because it can be done with little instruction or equipment and is low in cost.”
For those not in the obese category working at 70% of max heart rate shows several health benefits including weight loss. ACSM recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days per week for healthy adults. The guidelines also state that physical activity can be broken up into 10-minute bouts and be as effective as one longer session.
ACSM also states that the benefits of brisk walking also extend to people at-risk for high blood pressure. A British study looked at borderline hypertensive middle-aged men after they walked at various intensities and durations, to determine which type of walking reduced blood pressure the most. Andrew Scott found that walking 30 minutes at 50 percent effort was most effective, reducing blood pressure for at least four hours.
This blog could be pages and pages long with research and information on how easy it is to gain health benefits including weight loss by taking a nice brisk walk. The old “if you didn’t throw up after your workout you didn’t work hard enough” philosophy has come and gone. Just go out and enjoy yourself and reap the benefits.
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