Saturday, July 25, 2015

Can Walking Keep One Fit?

It is generally thought that spending an hour of running or working out in the gym is the only way to fitness, yet some fitness experts think otherwise. They argued that walking is just as good.

Modern people spend plenty of time sitting. In fact, there is a new category of people, known as “actively sedentary” who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day. Obviously, exercising for just an hour or so can never be able to offset the long hours of stillness.

Emerging evidence has suggested that combined physical activity and inactivity may be more important for chronic disease risk than physical activity alone. In a study conducted in 2013 by researchers from the University of Texas School of Public Health, 218 marathoners and half marathoners were asked to report their training and sitting times. It was found that median training time was 6.5 hours per week, and median total sitting time was between 8 and 10.75 hours per day. This suggested that these runners were simultaneously highly sedentary and highly active.

Sedentary lifestyle has been blamed for years to cause obesity epidemic, which ultimately lead to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. So getting active is the key to one’s overall long-term health. 

A paper published in the journal ‘Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise’ by scientists at Indiana University found that three 5-minute walks done throughout 3 hours of prolonged sitting did reverse the harmful effects of prolonged sitting on arteries in the legs.

Physical activity is undoubtedly essential to health, and walking is the most basic foundation of movement. It is easier to get movement than it is to get exercise. There is a growing number of people calling walking a “superfood”, though this is somehow controversial.

While walking can benefit one’s health, it is definitely not a magical cure because walking would not help muscle or improve cardiovascular system. In order to help prevent disease and lose weight, weights and more intense cardio such as jogging are necessary, according to some fitness experts. Nevertheless, walking might be the only choice of physical activity for some people, especially for those who are not fit for jogging and those who are elderly. 

One might consider setting a target on number of steps to finish everyday. If fitness-walking guidelines of 10, 000 steps per day is too much, maybe one can begin at about 7,500 steps per day and at least 150 minutes of activity each week. Some habits change can help achieve the target. For instance, one might start with walking to friend’s house or the grocery store if they are within walking distance. If one takes public transport, get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. If possible, one can fit a walk every evening. Walking, when combined with healthy diet, would certainly benefit one’s health in one way or another.

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