Increasing your physical activity each day improves your health. If you increase the intensity of your activity, it is even better.
New studies have shown that you can improve your health by simply moving around for two minutes out of each hour you are sitting. A new study reveals you can boost exercise benefits if you take a little more time—and effort—with each step you take.
Walk a Little Faster and a Little Longer
Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine evaluates the effect of exercise on abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance.
Abdominal fat is composed primarily of visceral fat. Packed between internal organs and within the torso, visceral fat is also known as a “pot belly.” It causes the belly to protrude, or hang, over the waistline. A contributor to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma, abdominal obesity is no joke.
Glucose intolerance leads to insulin resistance and is a harbinger of type 2 diabetes. There is no question that any effort expended to reduce incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes—is good effort.
The study, conducted at Queen’s University in Ontario, looked at exercise sessions of varying combinations to find what kind of exercise provides the greatest overall benefit.
Not surprisingly, the study found all forms of exercise improved health. Those who exercised in the study lost two inches of abdominal fat and approximately five percent of their body weight. Researchers evaluated three workouts:
- Low intensity workout for 31 minutes
- Low intensity workout for 58 minutes
- High intensity workout for 40 minutes
While all workouts burned calories and reduced waistlines, only the high intensity workout increased glucose tolerance. Walking is great exercise, but where do you find the time each day to workout?
Getting a Move On: Tips to Start Walking
Making time to exercise is important—but oftentimes—not easy. Busy work and personal schedules leave little time for the gym or other fitness venues. Walking for fitness and health is a flexible, convenient, low-cost exercise that offers great return.
Like estate planning, fitness is often an issue put off for later. Eventually a thickening waistline or an injury returns attention to body mechanics. Consider these tips for getting a move on:
- Early bird gets the…walk: Even ten minutes of brisk walking is better than none—and it adds up. Feel good about yourself, and your day, by sacrificing a bit of sleep for an unruffled walk in the morning. Walking the dog is great—but be careful not to trip over your canine friend if you increase your speed.
- On the way to work: If you can, make part of your workday commute on foot. Take the stairs whenever possible.
- And at work: Repetitions of certain exercises can be done at work. After lunch, encourage co-workers to walk instead of sit. Return to work nourished and in better shape to metabolize your food—and your afternoon.
- With children: Taller or smaller, children are great motivators for exercise. For infants, use a jogging stroller to take your walk—or run. Walk at a mall with children when the weather is poor.
- Great investment: If you do have time for the gym, ask a trainer to help you multitask on a treadmill with hand weights. Increase your speed only when you feel coordinated with the new weight.
- Move…everywhere: Waiting in line, watching television, or talking on the phone are great places to do leg lifts, squats, one-legged stands, and any other stretch or motion that limbers you up.
- Use a fitness tracker: Whether it’s a FitBit, or a built-in app on your smartphone, there are many ways to keep track of your daily steps, miles walked, and even compete with friends. Instead of thinking – oh, no, I have to take the stairs, you may even end up looking for excuses to take extra steps, and beat your daily average!
Ready, Set, Go!
Other studies echo the conclusion of these findings that walking faster helps reduce mortality. Before you start walking, make sure you do a little homework on the right shoes for you, distances, and timing:
- For fitness, walk the speed you would if late for a bus, or appointment.
- Depending on your fitness level, consider aiming at a mile time of between 13 and 17 minutes. Try to walk at least 30 minutes a day. While 60 minutes is better—even 10 minutes of vigorous walking helps.
- As you feel comfortable, add time and mileage—but most of all, walk faster to get fit!
Dedicated to delivering personal service, our medical group offers evidence-based, integrated medicine, and treatment aimed at returning you to health—and wellness. Part of that is offering information to help you take the first step toward a more enjoyable quality of life.