Walking is great for many reasons, especially if you find yourself sitting at a desk all day. That applies to quite a few of us because, according to the American Heart Association, sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950. So it’s important to get moving during lunch, after work and on weekends for heart health and overall well-being.
You can get started by gearing up for National Walking Day on Wednesday, April 6. Then, make a commitment to incorporate walking into your daily routine.
Pick up the pace
According to the AHA, walking can help keep you fit, enhance your immune system and reduce your risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more. Moderate exercise, including brisk walking for as little as 30 minutes a day, can help:
- Lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. In fact, becoming more active can lower your blood pressure by as much as 4 to 9 mm Hg — the same reduction in blood pressure delivered by some antihypertensive medications. Physical activity can also boost your levels of good cholesterol.
- Increase your energy and stamina.
- Boost bone strength.
- Help control weight.
- Reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent.
- Reduce risk of stroke by 20 percent in moderately active people and by 27 percent in highly active ones.
- Establish good heart-healthy habits in children and counters the conditions (e.g., obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, poor lifestyle habits) that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life.
Keep a pair of walking shoes under your desk and find yourself a walking partner. Or plan to make your next meeting a walking meeting. Your coworkers will thank you!
Get your daily dose
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends the following exercise doses:
Children and adolescents (aged 6-17)
- Children and adolescents should do one hour or more of physical activity each day.
- Most of the 1-hour sessions should be moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- As part of their daily physical activity, children and adolescents should do vigorous-intensity activity at least 3 days per week. They should also do muscle strengthening, bone strengthening activities at least 3 days per week.
Adults (aged 18-64)
- Adults should do 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Additional health benefits are achieved by increasing to 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 2.5 hours a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.
- Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups performed 2 or more days per week.
Be sure to see a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise program.
Take the next step:
- Register for the Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run, which takes place on Saturday morning, May 7.
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.