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Walking – the easy path to fitness for the obese

At the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine researches presented findings showing the effectiveness walking has on the fitness levels of obese patients.

They studied 14 morbidly obese patients and asked them to walk one mile at their own brisk walking pace. All 14 achieved 70% of their maximum heart rate, which is more than enough for them to increase their aerobic fitness.

Due to their extra body mass the heart has to work harder than a normal weight person’s would, so achieving an aerobic workout with less effort. Therefore walking is a great way for the overweight to begin an exercise programme. It requires no instruction and is low in cost.

A British study also found that walking lowered the blood pressure of middle aged men with borderline hypertension.

They studied the men walking at different intensities and found that those that walked for 30 minutes at 50% effort lowered their blood pressure the longest, up to 4 hours. Those that walked longer at a higher intensity had no additional effect on their blood pressure. So if lowering blood pressure is the only goal, then in this case less is more effective.

A Korean study also found in 23 hypertensive men 4 x 10 minutes brisk walking sessions was just as effective at lowering blood pressure as 40 minutes continuous walking. Showing once again that people with particular conditions can do less than they may believe they have to improve their health and fitness and by slipping in small bouts of exercise during the day even those with tight time schedules can still find time to exercise.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days per week for healthy adults. The guidelines also state that physical activity can be broken up into 10-minute bouts and be as effective as one longer session, a recommendation confirmed by another study on the effects of brisk walking on hypertension.

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