Stepping up your Physical Activity: Walking to Improve your Health

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A: Hi there girlfriend, what’s new with you?

B: Well, summer is here, and it’s seven months after my New Year resolution. My resolution was to get more health conscious and do something about my excess weight. I hate to admit it, but I just got caught up with kids, home and work, so I forgot all about Me! I need help! Tell me what is the easiest way to get in shape and doesn’t cost a lot of money, you know the budget!! By the way, you look great and fit. So what is your secret?

A: Well,I do have a big secret for you, do you have about 30 min to spare and come with me? I’ll tell you all about it.

B: Ok sure, let’s take my car and go sit in a café. I could use something cool to drink

A: NO, leave your car, let’s walk around the block. Go and put your walking shoes and comfortable clothes on. Oh, and don’t forget your cool H2O bottle, and bring one extra bottle for me. I’ll wait for you down here, hurry time is flying by, and I got to be home in 1 hour.

5 min later

B: Well here I am! Do I look wonderful?

A: You always look great, but are you comfortable in your clothing??

B: Oh yes!

A: Let’s start walking and I want you to listen to me while we are walking.

B: So what exactly is your big secret? You got my attention!!

A: Exactly what we are doing right now: Walking! Walking – the way to improve your health, it is simple and at minimal cost; let me tell you all about it.

According to the American Heart Association, (the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases) diseases devastating millions of people of all ages and killing more than 900,000 Americans each year.

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is characterized by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the inner lining of arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It also contributes to other risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, a low level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and diabetes. Moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer on most or all days.

How can I improve my physical fitness?

Programs designed to improve physical fitness take into account frequency (how often), intensity (how hard), and time (how long). They provide the best conditioning.

The FIT Formula:


F = frequency (days per week)

I = intensity (how hard, e.g., easy, moderate, vigorous) or percent of heart rate

T = time (amount for each session or day


What risk factors are reduced?

Regular Walking can also help reduce or eliminate some of these risk factors:

High blood pressure – Regular walking activities can lower blood pressure.

Cigarette smoking – Smokers who become physically active are more likely to cut down or stop smoking.

Diabetes – People at their ideal weight are less likely to develop diabetes. Physical activity may also decrease insulin requirements for people with diabetes.

Obesity and overweight – Regular physical activity can help people lose excess fat or stay at a reasonable weight.

High levels of triglycerides – Physical activity helps reduce triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are linked to developing coronary artery disease in some people.

Low levels of HDL – Low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL for men/less than 50 mg/dL for women) have been linked to a higher risk of coronary artery disease. Recent studies show that regular physical activity can significantly increase HDL cholesterol levels and thus reduce your risk.

Physical activity – Builds healthy bones, muscles and joints, and reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Also helps psychologically. It reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, improves mood and promotes a sense of well-being.

The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity also suggests that active people have a lower risk for stroke.

(Some people should consult their doctor before they start a vigorous exercise program)

Walking Off Weight:

Walking at a moderate pace for 30-60 minutes burns stored fat and can build muscle to speed up your metabolism.

Short Day: Warm up 5-10 minutes. Stretch then Walk at target pace

                    (Determined, 50-70% of maximum heart rate) for 30 minutes.

The general rule of thumb for estimating your maximum heart rate is:

For men, subtract your age from 220.

For women, subtract your age from 227.

Slow to easy pace for 5 minutes. Finish with gentle stretching.

Long Day: Warm up 5-10 minutes at easy pace. Stretch and Walk at target pace for 60 minutes. Slow to easy pace for 5 minutes. Finish with gentle stretching.

Long Easy Day: Warm up 5-10 minutes at easy pace. Stretch and Walk at target pace for 30 minutes. Slow to easy pace for additional 30 – 90 minutes. Finish with gentle stretching.

Day Off: When walking for weight loss, you should take no more than 1 to 2 days off a week.

Weight is determined mostly by the balance of calories – how many you burn vs. how many you eat each day. To lose weight, you need to increase your activity to burn more and/or eat fewer calories each day.

Calories and Weight

A pound (2.2 Kg) of fat equals 3500 calories. To lose 1 pound (2.2 Kg) a week you will need to expend 3500 more calories than you eat that week, whether through increased activity or decreased eating or both. Losing 1-2 pounds (2.2- 4.4Kg) of fat a week is a sensible goal, and so you will want to use the combination of increased activity and eating less that will total 3500 calories.

How You Burn Calories

Your weight x distance = energy used walking.

Time does not matter as much as distance. If you speed up to walking a mile (1.6 km) in 13 minutes or less, you will be burning more calories per mile (1.6 km).

Items needed to start your walking program:

The best shoes for walking

Walking shoes are your most important item of gear.

The best shoe for you is the one that fits you best, the one that gives you the proper support, flexibility, cushioning, and compensates for any stride problems you may have, such as over-pronation. Each person’s feet are different. Take all advice with a grain of salt and find a shoe fitting expert to help you find the shoe that is best for your walking distance, speed, style, and surface as well as your weight and stride.


It counts the number of steps you actually take can help you to build up to your walking goals. New walkers can use a pedometer to monitor their progress towards their goal of 10,000 steps daily.

For walking comfort, dress in layers

The inner layer should be of a fabric such as CoolMax or polypropylene that will wick sweat away from your body to evaporate – not cotton, which holds it in next to the skin.

Hats are essential equipment

They shield the top of your head from the sun – an area where it is hard to apply sunscreen unless you are bald, but still burns. Hats with visors also shield your face from sun exposure (15 SPF sun screen need to be applied on face and exposed areas)

H2O Bottle  

Drink when thirsty! That’s the rule of thumb for any length of walk. Carrying your own water or sports drink is the surest way to be able to drink when thirsty.

The general rule of thumb, however, is a woman of average weight needs 4-6 oz (120 – 180 ml) of water for every 15 minutes of exercise.

Music while walking helps you walk further

A study published in 2002 by Ohio State University researchers found that lung disease patients who listened to music while walking walked an average of 19 miles a week – four more miles than the control group who didn’t listen to music while walking. This confirms what many of us find to be true – music helps distract you from the effort of exercise and makes it a more pleasurable experience.

Walk regularly if you can
Try to make walking a routine – for example, try to walk at the same time each day. Remember, you use the same amount of energy no matter what time of day you walk, so do what is most convenient for you. You may find that asking someone to walk with you will help make it a regular activity. Some people find that keeping an ‘activity diary or log’ also makes it easier.

A: So what do you think?

B: That is great and simple, I love it! But I’ll be at the North Shore Resort all summer. What should I do?

A: That is great, because I’ll be there to. So tell your family and friends and let’s start a group “Walk for health”. It will be a great summer program and where we meet new people and help to motivate each other to improve our health and decrease our weight. Waiting for your call!

“Start – being involved; making a change & taking control. Start Walking”


Walk this way

Whether you’re walking around the block or at the beach you can boost your calorie burn, walk faster and stay injured free by having good form.

  • Your head: look straight ahead.
  • Your arms: relax your arms by your sides and swing then front to back; your hands shouldn’t come up higher than your breastbone.
  • Your hips and waist: stand tall and keep your hips positioned directly above your feet.
  • Your feet: land on your heel first, then roll through to the ball of your foot.
  • Your legs: stick with natural stride length to help avoid shin pain.


A: So what d you think?

B: That is great and simple, I love it. But I will be at the North Coast all summer. What should I do?

A: Well I’ll be there also. So tell your family and friends and let’s have a group walk for health. It will be a great summer program and where we meet and help to motivate each other to improve our health and decrease our weight.

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