Walk It Off: Benefits of Walking Instead of Running

Heart Health News     Fall 2017

If you’re not in an exercise routine, how do you get started? 

One great way we can start to work physical activity into our lives is doing something most of us already do every day: walk. 

A recent study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) shows that walking briskly can lower your risks of many diseases just as much as vigorous-intensity running:

And, the more someone walked, the better the benefits. 

If you don’t currently exercise, walking is a low-impact place to begin. You can start off slow by adding some speed and additional time to the walking you already do, says the American Heart Association (AHA), such as:

  • Exploring a nearby park with friends or family
  • Parking your car farther to walk inside a grocery store or workplace
  • Taking your dog for a walk 

The AHA recommends we set a goal of walking for at least 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. Start off a walking routine doing as much as you feel comfortable doing. Add a little time each day until you build up to the full 150 minutes each week.

How can you know if you are exercising at the right intensity? A great way to measure the intensity of your workout is to use the “Talk Test,” says the AHA. Try talking in full sentences without having to gasp between words. If you are gasping for air to finish your sentence, your exercise is intense instead of moderate. But, if you can sing, your exercise is a little on the light side.

Sometimes days can feel to short and to-do lists can seem far too long to fit in exercise. On those days, we must find a way to make exercise feel just as important as other tasks that need done. One way is to break up your 30 minutes of walking each day into two or three smaller 10-minute or 15-minute walks.

To get the most benefits from working out, the AHA says we should strength train in addition to walking. At least two days a week, do moderate muscle-strengthening activities. Think anything from gardening to dance to yoga. 

Whether you decide walking is the best workout for you, or you decide to tackle a different exercise, having a plan and staying active is one of the best ways we can combat risks of heart disease and stroke. 

For more information about the health benefits of walking, talk with your doctor or visit www.PremierPhysicianNet.com/heart to find a physician.