Researchers who spoke at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) want the public to know that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular brisk walks can help fight obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Just 40 minutes of walking a day can lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, a new Korean study shows. Researchers measured the blood pressure of 22 hypertensive and pre-hypertensive men after a brisk 40-minute walk (some volunteers were checked after four, 10-minute brisk walking intervals). The men walked a pace between 3 to 4 miles per hour. Blood pressure decreased by about the same about each type of exercise session.
"Some people like to work out all at once," says Saejong Park, PhD, of the Korea Institute of Sport Science in Seoul, "but others say they can’t comply with an exercise program because they have no time. These findings suggest people with time crunches and busy schedules can fit bits of exercise in throughout the day and reap the same health benefits."
In an American study, 14 morbidly obese patients walked 1 mile at as brisk a pace as possible. Patients were allowed to take a break if necessary, but most completed the walk within 30 minutes, says Thomas Spring, MS, a senior exercise physiologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.
"[They all] got their heart rate up to an adequate level to have benefits in term of cardiovascular health," says Spring. "Walking is a great way for the overweight and obese to begin an exercise program, but always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program."
Did you know that walkers have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes? It’s good to know that whatever your starting fitness level, walking can be a simple yet effective excercise for becoming – and staying – fit and healthy.