Walking Your Steps to Health
Current American Heart Association guidelines recommend moderate-intensity exercise (i.e.: brisk walk) for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or intense aerobic exercise (such as running) for at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week.
Walking does not require special equipment – comfortable shoes and clothing to protect you from the weather if walking outdoors may be all that’s required.
Health benefits of walking:
- Increased cardiovascular (heart) and pulmonary (lung) health
- Reduced risks for stroke and heart attack
- Improved management of chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and joint stiffness
- Increased muscle strength and endurance, reduces body fat
Walking vs. Running
Running is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise, but many are unable to do so due to physical limitations, such as arthritis.
At any speed, walkers have one foot on the ground at a given time, whereas runners are airborne during part of every stride. As the speed increases, the airborne time may be up to 45 percent of the run, which explains the high-impact nature of the running. The stress on the legs may equal about three times the body weight each time a runner’s foot hits the ground. In a mile-long run, the runner’s legs absorb more than 100 tons of impact force. Walkers have much lower risk (1 to 5 percent) of exercise-related injuries than runners (20 to 70 percent).
Make Walking Part of your Routine
Wear a pedometer. Smartphones and many wearable devices, such as Fitbit and iWatch, also function as a pedometer, measuring the number of steps you take. This may motivate you to walk. The recommended number of steps accumulated per day to achieve health benefit is 10,000 steps or more.
See your healthcare provider for a medical check up before starting a new fitness program, especially if you have underlying chronic medical condition.
Come out and join me on a walk. You can find me walking on one of the many beautiful trails in Southwest Missouri or at the gym.
Frank S. Kim, MD, FACC, FSCAI, MHA, is an interventional cardiologist at Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute. Dr. Kim joined Freeman Health System in January 2019. Dr. Kim received his bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley; his medical degree from the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine; and his master’s in health administration from Missouri State University. He holds board certifications in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology, nuclear cardiology and vascular medicine.