Walk it off…

“Take a walk” or “walk it off” is no longer just a good tip for when you need to cool off. Walk it off to literally walk it off…extra lbs that is.

My husband recently activated the steps tracker on his phone so while on a heavy eating/drinking weekend in New Orleans, I asked him to keep track to see if we were at all offsetting any of the damage done at places like Commander’s Palace. It turns out that when people ask me “what I do” to stay so slim, I should say walk…a lot. On an average weekend day, my husband and I walk about 25,000 steps. During the week, he gets in about 12,000 and I get more than that (although most of that is thanks to my lack of a desk job). On vacation, the place where healthful decisions go to die, we walked over 12 miles! That’s right…on both Saturday and Sunday, we averaged 12.3 miles each day. (Some of that walking was actually dancing…if any of our fit readers find themselves in New Orleans, do yourself a favor and head to Frenchman street for amazing live music).

But I digress…

There is research to back this whole benefits of walking thing up. By now, everyone has heard that you should get 10,000 steps a day, but an article that ran on the Times well blog this weekend called “Walk Hard, Walk Easy. Repeat” suggests people who only walk to get exercise, may need to push themselves a little more. According to the article:

A decade ago, scientists led by Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, started developing walking programs. They knew that walking was physically the easiest (and also the most practical) exercise for those in middle age and older, but the researchers suspected that people might need to push themselves to achieve the greatest health benefits. So they created a regimen consisting of three minutes of fast walking at a pace that Nose says approximates a 6 or 7 on a scale of exertion from 1 to 10. Each “somewhat-hard” three-minute spell was followed by three minutes of gentle strolling.

In their original experiment, the results of which were published in 2007, walkers between the ages of 44 and 78 completed five sets of intervals, for a total of 30 minutes of walking at least three times a week. A separate group of older volunteers walked at a continuous, moderate pace, equivalent to about a 4 on the same exertion scale. After five months, the fitness and health of the older, moderate group had barely improved. The interval walkers, however, significantly improved aerobic fitness, leg strength and blood-pressure readings.

Basically, research has been suggesting for a while now that “intense, interval-style workouts — brief bouts of very hard exercise broken up by periods of recovery — have been shown to improve the health and fitness of people who exert themselves for only a few minutes a week”….and we have talked about these studies on this blog. But this new research implies that applying that same interval mentality to walking may be just as effective.

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So strap on those walking shoes and get those 10,000 steps…or less, but in intervals…or get to the gym…or a barre class…or,
you get the point. Just get moving!! Because even a weekend in the food coma capital of the world doesn’t have to be disastrous for your waistline if you get out there and move!

 

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