Saturday, May 1, 2010

Picking Up the Pace

By William Sukala, MS, CSCS

Q: What is the difference between leisure walking, moderate walking, and brisk walking?

A: It's a matter of intensity. Here are some guidelines: At light (leisure) intensity, you can talk and sing while you walk. You are not sweating and your breathing is normal. At moderate intensity, you can talk but not sing. Your breathing is deep and you begin to sweat after about 10 minutes. At high intensity (brisk walking or running), you can talk only briefly and can't sing. Your breathing is rapid and deep and you begin sweating in about 3-5 minutes. If you need to lose 30 pounds or more, do not exercise at a high intensity unless you have talked to your doctor.

Bear in mind that even leisure walking has health benefits. By virtue of the fact that you're up on your feet and that walking is gravity bearing, it is a physical activity that matters, fitness-wise. True, it probably won't prepare you for the Olympics nor confer any high level of fitness, but it can offer health benefits. Low-level walking has been shown to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and reduce your overall risk of heart disease (among a long list of other benefits). As you adapt and progress to higher walking speeds, you not only receive the health benefits but also the fitness benefits. As with any exercise program, ease into it and stay consistent. Health and fitness is just a step away!

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