Experts say we should be walking at least 10,000 steps a day (about 5 Miles) just to stay healthy. But according to experts at Edinburgh University we are walking 80 miles a year less than we did ten years ago.
Research reported in The Lancet found that adding 2,000 moderately paced walking steps (20 minutes) a day to regular activity could cut the risk of strokes and heart disease by 8%.
Doing twice that many was as effective as being on cholesterol-reducing drugs such as statins i.e. by it reduces your cardiovascular risk by 16-20%.
Remember the controversy about taking statins because of their side-effects? Well walking doesn’t have any has been discovered to have these significant health benefits.
- It can reduce cancer death risk by 34%
- It can cut the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 50%
- It can lower our risk of high blood pressure
- It can lower our risk of high cholesterol
- It can lower our risk of diabetes
- It can lower the risk of osteoporosis
These facts are based on research by the American Heart Association based on a 6-year study published in their journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. Furthermore research at the University of Oregon found walking was kinder to joints than running (no surprise there surely?)
Many personal trainers are incorporating walking into their programmes. One who runs “fitness walking camps” says “You can replicate all of the training methods used for running such as intervals and sprints on a walk” Including hills is one way of introducing intensity as by walking uphill your body is subject to a form of resistance training.
You don’t have to go to fitness camp of course you can walk the kids to school, walk to work, or walk your dog.
Nordic Walking (ski-sticks without the snow) has been shown to provide more benefits than just a stroll through the park if you’re not worried what people think of your appearance.
Obviously the faster you walk the more energy you use. For example in 30 minutes a 9 and 1/2 stone person will use 75 calories walking at 2 mph. 99 calories at 3 mph, and 150 calories at 4 mph.
You can adopt an interval-training approach by walking at fast speeds for a few minutes then slowing your pace which is apparently good at improving cardiovascular fitness and boosting your metabolism.
If 10,000 steps a day, or 5 miles, sounds a lot start with 6,000 and 10 minutes of housework or shopping can equal 1,000 steps.
Professor Raustrop, who carried out research in Sweden, said that women aged 18-40 should do 12,000 steps, and 11,000 for those aged 40-50. For men the goals should be 12,000 up to age 50 and 11,000 after that. He also recommended that for girls aged 6-12 they should do 1,200 steps a day and boys 1,500.
If you’re thinking about walking to lose weight, think again. The Swedish research based on over 3,000 adult volunteers in 14 countries found that for women under 50 and all men, 10,000 steps is not enough to control weight. To lose weight you have to burn about 600 more calories a day than you consume.
- 1 mile of brisk walking (4mph) = 1 Mars bar
- I mile strolling (2 mph) = a small caramel latte
- 1 Mile steady walking (3 mph) = a packet of Kettle chips
- 1 mile of hilly walking = 1/2 a large ham & mushroom pizza
- I mile speedy walking = a prawn & mayonnaise sandwich
Walking is a really good exercise for the over-60s. Even 30 minutes a day can prevent arthritis and disability.
People at risk of knee arthritis should be walking at least 6,000 steps a day. At 100 steps a minute that means asking for 1 hour. If you already have knee problems or are a beginner then start at 3,000 steps according to Professor Daniel White at Boston University. Research in Florida’s Institute of Ageing found that 150 minutes of walking a week resulted in 18% fewer episodes of disability in elderly patients.
If you are short of time then 15 minutes fast walking up stairs is just as good as twice that long walking or jogging on the flat according to the American Lung Foundation. Climbing stairs for an average of 6 minutes a day for 8 weeks led to a 15% drop in cholesterol evils and a 10-15% increase in fitness according to research at the University of Ulster. Stair walking is also good for toning legs and bums. Climbing 5 flights of stairs five times a week burns about 302 calories if you take every step but fewer calories if you take two stairs at a time.
Whichever way you look at it walking has got to be good for you!
Source: the Times Body & Soul 25 August 2014