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Wellness Tip: Research shows your risk of heart disease and early death can be cut in half if you walk briskly for 30-45 minutes three to four days a week.

March 2017

Monitor the intensity of your walk

It is important to walk fast enough to challenge the heart and lungs to show improvement, but not so fast that you overdo it. You can monitor your intensity by listening to how hard you are breathing.

You know you are getting a good challenge to your cardiovascular system when:

  • You are breathing deeply but are not out of breath.
  •  You begin to warm up and sweat a little.
  •  Your heart rate begins to climb but isn’t racing.

When walking and warmed up, your walk should feel “fairly easy” to “somewhat difficult” but not hard or strenuous. If you exercise too intensely, you are likely to tire out before completing your exercise timeor distance.

If you don’t walk briskly, you will not see as much improvement in your walking capability. Start at an easy level and slowly work up to a more vigorous walking pace. Research shows that people who walk briskly for 30–45 minutes most days of the week cut their risk in half for heart disease and early death. Regular walking can:

  • Strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis and hip fractures in later life
  • Reduce your risk for colon, breast, and pancreatic cancers
  • Improve your stamina and your fitness
  • Give you more energy
  •  Improve your mood and decrease the risk of depression
  • Reduce stress and help you relax
  • Tone and strengthen your muscles
  •  Increase the number of calories your body uses to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Lower your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Give you an opportunity to socialize actively with friends and family
  • Help you live a longer, more productive life

Developing your walking program

If you haven’t been exercising or have a physical condition or limitation, see your doctor before starting your exercise program. Then, start slowly. Don’t be discouraged if you are only able to walk 5 or 10 minutes. You can build up your stamina. If you’re able to walk 5 minutes, do that; rest; then walk another 5–10 minutes or until you’re fatigued. As your condition improves, you should gradually increase your time and pace. Some experts say it takes a month of reconditioning to make up for each year of physical inactivity. Here’s a week-by-week guide to help you develop a walking program.

 

WEEK

Warm Up

Walk Normally

Aerobic Zone

Walk Briskly

Cool Down

Walk Normally

 

Total

1

1.5 min.

5 min.

5 min.

15 min.

2

2.5 min.

7 min.

5 min.

17 min.

3

3.5 min.

9 min.

5 min.

19 min.

4

4.5 min.

11 min.

5 min.

21 min.

5

5.5 min.

13 min.

5 min.

23 min.

6

6.5 min.

15 min.

5 min.

25 min.

7

7.5 min.

18 min.

5 min.

28 min.

8

8.5 min.

20 min.

5 min.

30 min.

9

9.5 min.

23 min.

5 min.

33 min.

10

10.5 min

26 min.

5 min.

36 min.

11

11.5 min.

28 min.

5 min.

38 min.

12

12.5 min.

30 min.

5 min.

40 min.

 

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