What if I told you that instead of hitting the pavement for that dreaded 2 mile run, you can walk on your lunch break with a co-worker and keep your heart just as healthy? Sounds more appealing, doesn’t it? We have long known the health benefits of walking, but most people would tell you if you want to be “more fit”, you should bump up the intensity to a run compared to a walk. Before you call your running buddy and cancel, let me explain.
Thanks to researchers at Duke University, researchers have now shown that only two to three hours of mild exercise a week at a moderate intensity can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, does that mean if you are runner to stop and start walking? Not quite. That same study shows that those people who ran 20 miles a week vs. 12 achieved a higher improvement in fitness levels, but there’s more. The study also proves that walking 12 miles a week or running the same amount of miles doesn’t change an individual’s fitness level. This is great news for anyone who isn’t too fond of running, but is still looking to steer clear of cardiovascular disease. (Who isn’t right?!)
Not sure how to start a workout plan? Here are my top three tips:
- Talk with your doctor
- Meet with a Certified and Degreed Health Fitness Specialist for a fitness assessment and exercise prescription
- Start slow
Before you start any type of exercise program, it is always wise to first discuss this with your primary care doctor. Your doctor will be able to discuss any concerns or restrictions you may have when first starting a new regimen. This is also a chance for you to ask any questions you may have about your health. Once you have talked to a doctor, the next best step is to meet with a degreed and certified Health Fitness Specialist. This professional will take you through a series of fitness tests to be able to correctly assess your current fitness level and also create a safe and individualized exercise plan. They will lay out a plan that will best help you reach your goals. My third tip when first starting a new exercise program is to start slow. Make slow changes to your routine that becomes lifelong habits instead of trying to change everything at once. This will enable you to make changes that you can stick with and create a permanent change for your health.