Walk Your Way to Weight Loss

March 14, 2011

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WalkingWhen it comes to exercise options I recommend for weight loss and maintenance, walking is at the top of the list.

Why? There are many reasons including that it’s inexpensive, easy to do anywhere, perfect for people who haven’t worked out in awhile, and it cuts one’s risk of all types of health conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, insomnia, arthritis, back pain, and more!

Now a new study gives another good reason – walking may be one of the best ways to ensure you live a long, healthy, and active life.

In the study, researchers reviewed data from nine large, long-term aging studies that included a total of nearly 35,000 people, ages 65 and up. Along with other information, these studies had recorded information on walking speed and survival rates.

What the researchers found was that after age and gender, the next best predictor whether a person would be alive 5 or 10 years later, or not, was how fast the person could walk down a hallway or a few yards. The researchers were quick to point out that it wasn’t necessarily that those who walked faster lived longer, but that the ability to walk at a reasonable pace seemed to indicate the person was in overall better health than someone who could not.

I have seen this in my own practice, as well, and have observed that walking seems to be a “use it or lose it” skill. The more immobile one is, the more likely his or her health is headed toward life in a wheelchair or walker, and a decline in health overall.

The good news is the best way to prevent that fate is to simply start walking more. Whatever your current ability, from just a few steps to a mile or more, start where you are, and in time you’ll find that you can go further and walk longer.

It’s important not to walk beyond what’s comfortable, or to try to go from not walking much to walking a marathon in one day. It’s better to gradually build up your endurance, say adding 5 minutes a day, than to push yourself and possibly end up with an injury or setback.

When the weather is good, walking outside is always enjoyable. But don’t stop there. When the weather is too hot, cold, or wet, look for places where you can walk indoors like a local shopping mall, or even walk in place at home along with a video or on a treadmill.

In fact, you can add lots of extra steps to your day without setting aside time for a “walk” at all. Simply choose the furthest parking spot from the door at work or when shopping, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk across the office to tell a coworker something rather than send an email. If you do this consistently, you can easily work the equivalent of a 30-minute walk right into your regular day.

Before you know it, you too will be walking your way to a slimmer, trimmer you and a healthier future!

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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Comments (8)

[…] a good pair of shoes and maybe some workout clothes to start and leave it at that. Once you’re walking or doing something else for a month or more, then make the bigger financial commitment if you still […]

[…] it Off: As I have said before, walking is an ideal workout and is something that you can do anytime, anywhere, with very little cost or equipment. Now that […]

[…] at first glance these results seem like a no-brainer – of course being physically fit and having a good fitness level in your 40s reduces your risk of heart disease in your 50s or 60s […]

[…] lastly there is one nugget of wisdom to take from this study: Be moderate. Don’t push yourself to exercise for hours on end or to a level where you feel like you […]

[…] a Walking Club: Walking clubs and events are a favorite summer workout activity in many cities. Check around and see if […]

[…] Walking is probably the very best exercise program for weight loss. Not only does it not require any […]

[…] health years down the road. But that may be all you have to do. More and more research shows your physical health is one of the biggest predictors of your mental […]

[…] risk for a major cardiac event by 10 percent by taking an extra 2,000 steps per day. At a moderate walking pace, you can go the distance in about 20 […]

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