Living a heart healthy lifestyle can begin with your own two feet. A brisk walk for at least 30 minutes a day can reduce heart disease, possibly by as much as 30 to 40 percent.
Walking is versatile. It is one exercise that can be enjoyed by all ages and can be done almost anywhere at any time. It’s not a race; walk at your own speed and enjoy the scenery around your neighborhood. Walking sticks can also be used for those who tire easily at first or have balance problems.
Start your walking program slowly, increase your distance and speed gradually and ask your doctor about any problems or pain you may experience.
Take off the pounds
The average person can lose 18 pounds in one year by walking four times a week, 45 minutes each time, according to a study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In addition, a Harvard study found that for every hour of regular, vigorous physical activity, a person can add two hours of life expectancy.
Walking has other advantages as well. Walking at any speed for 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times a week, will increase the strength of your heart and lungs. It can also strengthen your immune system. A study at Appalachian State University in North Carolina found that a group of women who walked 45 minutes a day were half as likely to catch colds or the flu as an inactive group.
Catch walking fever
Smart Heart Living offers several tips on how to make your walking program successful. Here are a few of the best:
* Use a heart rate monitor. The monitor makes sure you are within your target range. You won’t get cardiac benefits if you fall short of your target range, while you may be putting yourself in risk if you are over your target heart rate.
* Buy a treadmill. If going to the gym doesn’t appeal to you, then owning a treadmill will save money and pounds during the cold weather months.
* Set realistic goals.
* Purchase a pedometer. Try walking longer distances every week.
* Invest in good shoes. No one can walk with a blister.
* Find a walking buddy. The miles fly by when you share them with a good friend.
Everyone can Start! walking at the American Heart Association’s McCracken County Start! Heart Walk. It will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Noble Park. Western Baptist is the title sponsor.
Teams can walk either a three-mile or one-mile course. Register online at www.heartwalk.kintera.org/mccrackencountyky or call Lori Holland at (502) 371-6013.
Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline
For help identifying signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, phone our award-winning Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline at 1-800-575-1911 to speak with a registered nurse at Western Baptist.