5 tips to turn a walk into a healthy exercise for the whole body

5 tips to turn a walk into a healthy exercise for the whole body

Maintaining regularity, alternating intensity and type of surface are resources for a simple activity to become a complete workout

A simple, everyday activity like going for a walk is a simple habit that triggers a cascade of health benefits. Frequent brisk walks help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, control blood sugar, and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

A recent study showed that fast walkers had a 34% lower risk of heart failure than sedentary people
A recent study showed that fast walkers had a 34% lower risk of heart failure than sedentary people

While walking improves cardiovascular health, walking more is even better. The faster, farther and more often you walk, the greater the benefits.

1 – Hold frequency

Walking is a good option for people who, because of being overweight or other health problems, have difficulty doing more vigorous exercise. It is also a good way to start being more active and gradually progress towards more demanding activities.

Dr. Alberto Cormillot explained in Infobae that “it is considered that a person can stop being sedentary if he assumes new healthy habits, such as performing physical exercises or sports for at least 30 minutes for 3 days a week. With this, a great weight will be given to avoid obesity and other diseases related to sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. A 30-minute walk 5 times a week is enough to meet these recommendations. For an activity to have an impact on overall health, it is essential to maintain consistency, acquire the habit and then gradually increase the challenges.

2 – Walking sticks

Canes are often thought of as being for older people. However, incorporating these elements into walking can improve fitness for anyone at any age.

Nordic walking combines cardiovascular exercise with vigorous muscle training for the shoulders, arms, core, and legs.

“When you walk without poles, you activate the muscles below the waist. When you add Nordic poles, all the muscles in your upper body are also activated,” explained cardiologist Aaron Baggish, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University.

“You’re exercising 80% to 90% of your muscles, instead of 50%, which provides a substantial calorie-burning benefit,” he said in a recent Harvard Medical School publication. In the article, it is pointed out that numerous tests confirm that Nordic walking burns more calories than normal walking, estimates range from 18% to 67% more.

3 – Toggle Surface Types

The easiest way to climb your hike is to find an incline. Climbing stairs or choosing steep paths adds resistance that can help build muscles in the lower body, such as the quads and hamstrings (in the thighs) and calves.

Stanford University sports medicine specialist Lauren Elson recommended: “Go upstairs for a minute or two or go up the incline on your treadmill and walk for 30 seconds to a minute.

4 – Vary the intensity

Intensity interval training involves walking at a faster pace than usual for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest at a slower pace, and repeating the cycle for a set amount of time or distance.

“The key is to walk at a brisk pace that gets your heart rate up and forces you to work harder,” Elson recommended in a recent Harvard Medical School publication. Of course, what is considered “energetic” differs for each person.

A simple way to know if we are making the necessary effort is the “speech test”, which consists of being able to maintain a fluid dialogue without effort while doing physical activity. “This ensures that you work hard enough, but not too hard. Aim for a 5 to 6 on the scale during the highest intensity interval portion of your walk, which is a moderate intensity level.

The benefits of walking are multiple and as the pace picks up, the benefits increase
The benefits of walking are multiple and as the pace picks up, the benefits increase

5 – Set a goal

Experts from the Mayo Clinic recommend keeping a daily progress log of the number of steps, the distance and the duration of the walk. This serves to measure the point at which we begin to take the activity seriously and can serve as a source of inspiration so as not to lose perseverance.

“Think how good you’ll feel when you see how many miles you’ve walked each week, month or year,” say Mayo Clinic specialists.

Using an activity tracker or mobile phone app to calculate steps and distance is a great resource for measuring goals and setting new goals.

The important thing is to abandon a sedentary life and start moving, going for a walk is always beneficial, and if at first it is difficult to organize yourself and reach more than 6,000 steps, no problem. The important thing is to start moving and incorporate the habit.