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Walk for Health!

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Walk for Health!

walk for health

Walking is one of the most effective ways to get fit- and it is also one of the most environmentally friendly means of transport . A good, brisk walk will give your heart and lungs a terrific working, enabling life- giving oxygen to get to all your body’s cells and boosting the efficiency of your circulation. Walking is also one of the best ways to control your weight. Brisk walking a mile  can burn 100 calories or more  that’s 300 calories per hour- and walking uphill can increase this by 50 per cent. Walking is low-impact so there’s little stress on your joints. And its is also good for your emotional health: walking for 45 minutes or more triggers the production of the body’s own feel-good hormones, endorphins, which in turn create feelings of well-being and relieve anxiety and stress.

Walking 10,000 steps to good health may be harder than it looks. Simply padding around from place to place during the day, while better than nothing, isn’t enough to achieve the federal minimum target for physical activity, researchers say.

The best scientific evidence has demonstrated that a daily 30-mins brisk walk is important for health, not whether the step count reaches 10,000.

The average person probably does 5,500-7,500 steps in ordinary living, but does it sporadically

Many people are under the notion that “Brisk walking is needed when late for the bus or late for a  meeting in the office.

The U.S Surgeon General’s guidelines call for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity on most, of not all, days of the week.

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Burning Calories with Everyday Activities

People who are too busy working and running a household to hit the health club or the treadmill can stop feeling guilty. A decade of cardiovascular studies by a creative research team offers a simple, natural alternative. Their findings make it easy for anyone to look at their daily tasks and build solid exercise into their normal routine.

Procedure 

Walking “briskly” will be different for each individual. Start every walk slowly. Gradually increase your pace. After about five minutes start to walk a little faster so that you feel slightly warmer., breathe a little faster and your heart is beating a little faster. Imaging you are late for an appointment. One way to tell if you are walking briskly is to take the “talk test” you should still be able to talk whilst walking,  if you can’t carry on a conversation then you’re going to fast!

Weeks 1-3 : get the habit :

Research shows that it takes 21 days to establish a habit so the first three weeks are designed to help you do just that.

Week 1: Aim to accumulate 30 minutes walking three days a week to get used to walking. The easiest way is to take three walks of 10 minutes.

Week 2-3: Now you’ve established a routine, increase the length of time  you walk to 15 minutes and aim to do two walks four days a week.

 

Weeks 4-5: upping the ante :

The next three weeks are devoted to increasing the distance you walk, the speed at which you walk and the difficulty of your walks so you are able to cope with longer, more arduous trips.

Week 4: Stick to 15-minite walk but increase the number of days to five days a week.

Week 5:  Step up your walking habit by increasing duration to 45 minutes in total five days a week. You can still break it up into 15-minute chunks if that suits you are experiment with doing one longer walk of say, 30 minutes and a shorter one of 15.

Week 6 : Time to increase the effort a bit by adding some more speed and / or endurance to your  work out. Continue with five 45- minute walks a week but either try to walk further each time or take a different route and include a few hills and inclines.

Weeks 6 on wards

Congratulations: you’re now a walker! Keep up the good work, Aim to  increase to an hour of walking everyday- remember you can still break it up into smaller chunks it its hard to find the time.

Note: If you find any week hard, repeat the programme for that week and stay with it until you are able to progress comfortably to the next level.

Make it brisk

The best walking workout is a brisk one , although if you haven’t been exercising recently a slowish saunter is better than nothing. You will know you’re walking briskly if:

  • Your heart is beating faster than usual but is not racing
  • Your breathing is heavier but you can still conduct a conversation
  • You feel warm and slightly sweaty.

Step it out

  • Watch your posture: keep neck and shoulder relaxed, and pull in your abdomen. Walk with your chin up and look forwards not down, keeping your arms tucked in close to your body.
  • Breathe deeply from your abdomen to increase the amount of air you can drawn into you lungs.
  • Find a comfortable stride- not too long as your body is then forced to rotate through the hips.
  • As you step out plant your heel down first and let your body weight roll through. Once you’ve transferred your weight to your front foot push through using the strong muscles in your buttocks. Then roll through your back foot keeping your toes in contact with the ground until you left your back foot to take the next step.
  • Keep your feet relaxed (don’t let them claw as you walk) to prevent tightness in the shins.
  • Do a few simple stretches after walking to avoid aching and muscle tightness.

Stay in the Zone

Walking is most effective when it is sufficient brisk to get your heart working a bit harder. To work out your target rate subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate (MHR). Then aim to keep your pulse rate at between 60 and 80 per cent of your MHR. So , if you’re 50 for instance. Your MHR is 170 beats per minute. Your target range is 102 to 136 beats per minute (170×0.60 and 180×0.80).

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Walking Techniques to keep up the pace

Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health; it’s good for your heart, blood pressure and weight management. Brisk walking even has the same health benefits as jogging. When you’re walking to get or stay fit, your form, pace, and breathing is especially important. Mastering a good walking technique takes some time. But with practice, it will become nature and will help you increase and maintain your pace comfortably.

You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes brisk walking three to four days a week to ward off chronic diseases, Remember, you can accrue those 30 minutes in 10 minutes sessions throughout the day.

Form and posture

Good form will help you walk faster and longer, increasing your fitness level more quickly. You’ll tire less easily, use more of your core (stomach and back) muscles, and improve the overall efficiency of your workout.

  • Strike with hell first. Your heel should hit the ground first. Roll your foot through to the toe, with no unnatural pushing from one foot to another. Take shorter,  rather than longer, steps. More frequent short steps will give you better workout and be easier on your joints.
  • Swing your arms. Bend your arms at the elbow at a 90-degree angle and swing them toward the center of your body. Be careful not to cross the center line of your body or bend your arms more than 90 degrees. Swinging your arms properly will give you a better aerobic workout. Burn more calories, and engage more muscles throughout your torso. Also you will be able to move faster than if your arms are dangling at your sides. Just keep your hands in a lightly curled fist (avoid clenching).
  • Stretch your spine. To maintain good posture, stretch your spine tall, reaching up to the sky with the top of your head. Your head should be resting comfortably in line with your spine- don’t tilt it back or tuck your chin. This is especially important when you’re going up hills. Looking up the hill can strain your neck and make it hard to breathe.
  • Contract your stomach. With your spine tall, contract your stomach muscles slightly and lift them upward to support your lower back. This will also help you maintain your posture, as well as avoid straining your lower back.

Pace and Breathing

Your pace- how fast your walk- will affect your breathing. The faster you walk, the harder you’ll breathe. Walking at a brisk pace gives you the same aerobic benefits as jogging.

  • Keep a brisk pace. You want to walk briskly- the way you would if you were late to an appointment or hurrying to catch a bus. You should be able to walk and talk at the same time.
  • Breathe freely. Your pace should increase your breathing rate, even to the point where you’re slightly winded. You’re overexerting yourself if you can’t talk and are completely of breath.

 

Picking up the Pace

Now that you have the technique, you’re ready to pick up the pace. A good pace varies depending on your fitness level, walking technique, and even walking location. Aim for a speed that increases your heart rate, and that you can maintain for 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Use the talk test. If you are walking slowly enough that you can carry a tune you are probably walking too slowly. If you’re gasping for air, slow down.
  • Speed up, slow down. A good way to increase your pace and endurance is to pick up the pace for short spells in between your steady pace. This is often referred to as interval training. After you’ve been walking comfortably for about five minutes, increase your speed for minutes or two, then return to your steady pace. Working your way up to a brief but high intensity walk or jog can keep your walking routine challenging and help you improve your fitness level.

 

NUMEROUS BENEFITS

If a daily fitness walk could be put in a pill, it would be one of the most popular prescriptions in the world. It has so may health benefits. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases- from heart attack and stroke to hip fracture and glaucoma. These may sound like claims on a bottle of snake oil, but they’re backed by major research. Walking requires no prescription, the risk of side effects is very low, and the benefits are numerous:

  • Managing your weight. Combined with healthy eating, physical activity is key to plan for long- lasting weight control. Keeping your weight within healthy limits can lower your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
  • Controlling your blood pressure. Physical activity strengthens the heart so it can pump more blood with less effort and with less pressure on the arteries. Staying fit is just as effective as some medications in keeping down blood pressure levels.
  • Decreasing your risk of heart attack. Exercise such a brisk walking for three hours a week- or just half an hour a day- is associated with a 30% to 40% lower risk of heart disease in women, (Based on the 20- year Nurses’ Health Study of 72,000 female nurses.)
  • Boosting the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), known as “good” cholesterol. Physical activity helps reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) in the blood, which can cause plaque buildup along the artery walls- a major cause of heart attacks.
  • Lowering your risk of stroke. Regular, moderate exercise equivalent to brisk walking for an hour a day, five days a week, can cut the risk of stroke by half, according to a Harvard study of more than 11,000 men.
  • Reducing your risk of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. The Nurses’ Health study also links regular activity to risk reductions for both these diseases. In another study, people at high risk reductions cut the risk in half by combining consistent exercise like walking with lower fat intake and a 5% to 7% weight loss.
  • Avoiding your need for gallstone surgery. Regular walking or another physical activity lowers the risk of needing gallstone surgery by 20% to 30% , found a Harvard study  of more than 60,000 women ages 40 to 65.
  • Protecting against hip fracture. Consistent activity diminishes the risk of hip fracture, concludes a study of more than 30,000 men and women ages 20 to 93.

The advantages go on and on. Many other studies indicate a daily brisk walk also can help:

  • Prevent depression, colon cancer, constipation, osteoporosis, and impotence
  • Lengthen lifespan
  • Lower stress levels
  • Relieve arthritis and back pain
  • Strengthen muscles, bones, and joints
  • Improve sleep
  • Elevate overall mood and sense of well- being.

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