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February 06, 2006
Walking...You Make My Heart Go Pitter Pat!
Not everyone who visits this blog or comes to Green Mountain at Fox Run, does so to learn how to reach their healthy weight - but a lot do. When you have your weight on the brain, expectations around getting healthy often get skewed.
The good news? Small improvements in your behavior and your thinking, could be as good for your health as just about anything you could do. The improvements you make don’t have to rock your world overnight. In fact, they shouldn’t. That’s why it’s so important to remember that increases in activity and subtle healthy changes in your diet can add significant benefit to your overall health and well being - even if you haven’t seen the needle move on the scale - just yet.
A recent study of 133 overweight men and women found that a moderate exercise regimen (such as 12 miles of brisk walking a week), offered major improvements in fitness and reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, it’s logical that any additional increase in the amount or intensity of exercise provides even more health benefits. Just keep in mind that some of us are capable of taking that notion to it’s illogical conclusion – if more is better – than more and more and more must be the best! So, before you decide to go rock climbing, white water rafting or swimming the English Channel, you might want to consider a brisk walk.
"People only need to walk up to 12 miles per week or for about 125 to 200 minutes per week to improve their heart health," study lead author Brian Duscha of Duke University, said in a prepared statement. "Our data suggest that if you walk briskly for 12 miles per week you will significantly increase your cardiovascular fitness levels compared to baseline. If you increase either your mileage or intensity, by going up an incline or jogging, you will achieve even greater gains." The truth? “You can improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of heart disease by exercising without losing weight," says Duscha .
This isn’t to say your journey to lose weight isn’t a valuable one. It’s just some food for thought. Don’t be so hard on yourself, understand and accept your successes. Every step you take to improve your health and well being is good for you – even if you can’t see it right away. Rock on!
Posted by Cindy on February 6, 2006 | Permalink
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This is my first posting to this blog, and I'm writing because I find myself confused with some of what I'm reading. I completely agree that walking is, for most people, the greatest way to get healthy. In fact, it is my exercise of choice. However, I don't think it is at all helpful to try to convince people to walk their way to good health by using the numbers that Brian Ducsha of Duke University used ("People only need to walk up to 12 miles per week or for about 125 to 200 minutes per week to improve their heart health"). So, does he really mean a brisk 12 miles, no matter the time, OR a brisk 125-200 minutes, no matter the length? Or is he implying that a brisk 12 miles can easily be done in 125-200 minutes, even by overweight people? If it is this last choice, then I have to take exception to this assumption.
Now, by my calculations, to walk 12 miles in 125 minutes means walking at a pace of 10.4 minutes per mile, and to walk 12 miles in 200 minutes means a pace of 16.67 minutes per mile. Maybe I'm wrong here, but that seems a bit fast, especially for someone who is significantly overweight, like myself. I remember having to try to run a mile in 7th grade gym class, and we were supposed to accomplish this in 12 minutes. Anyone who could run this in 10 minutes or less was often considered a good candidate for the junior high track team! So, do the folks at Duke honestly expect us to be able to WALK a mile as fast as the average person could run it?!? Even if you take the more generous pace of a 16.67-minute mile, this still seems to be asking a lot. After a year-and-a-half of going to the gym 4-6 times a week and working out in the 60-75 percent heart rate range for 30-45 minutes at a time, the best pace I could walk was about 2.5 miles in 45 minutes. That's a pace of 18 minutes per mile. Am I to believe that after all that hard work, I would still be falling far short of Duke's standards for heart health? In my case, increasing pace was really not an option. I was going as fast as I physically could, and going faster would cause foot problems and serious knee pain.
I agree with the author that small changes in eating, exercise, and thinking can be the best way to achieve health and well-being, as well as weight loss. I just don't think that it is a good idea to try to back this idea up with the information from the Duke study. It qualifies the benefits - to get benefits, you must be able to do the work at the level they set out, in this case, 12 brisk miles or 125-200 brisk minutes. If I, as a reader, feel that I can't achieve these results, then it makes me think, "Why bother?", a completely contradictory message to the one the author was trying to make - that small steps can make a difference.
Posted by: K Lillard | Feb 15, 2006 8:18:00 PM
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