Experts say exercise starts to decline as people surpass the age of 40, so they have some tips on how to make your daily walk more effective.
An entire industry has grown up around walking, a skill most of us mastered by the time we celebrated our first birthday.
There are coaches, expensive shoes, and digital equipment to measure how hard your body is working, how much ground you have covered, and how far you have gone.
Meanwhile, some public health officials in England have weighed in on the subject of walking speed. And brisk is in. Middle-aged people are being urged to walk faster to help stay healthy. This comes amid concerns that high levels of inactivity may be harming the health of older adults.
Exercise fades with age
Officials at Public Health England (PHE) say the amount of activity people engage in starts to tail off after the age of 40. Just 10 minutes a day could have a major impact, they say, and reduce the risk of early death by 15 percent.
PHE officials estimate four out of every 10 people from 40 to 60 years of age do not manage a brisk 10-minute walk even once a month. They want to reverse those statistics.
And, not surprisingly, it turns out there’s an app for that. The public health agency is promoting the free app, known as Active 10. It monitors the amount of brisk walking an individual does, as well as provide tips on how to incorporate more walking into a daily routine.
Putting your best foot forward
Doctors have been urging their patients for years to sit less and walk more. They say it’s easy to get started. Dr. Sushma Koneru, FACC, is a cardiologist at the Orlando Health Heart Institute in Florida.
“People think they need to go to the gym,” “In fact, walking is as good as running for cardiovascular health. As long as you have comfortable shoes, it will be fine.”
“Taking at least one 10-minute brisk walk a day can reduce the risk of early death by 15 percent, while a good level of activity each week can provide a multitude of health benefits,”
What is brisk walking?
As far as “brisk” walking is concerned, the ideal is 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week, and it’s not hard to get started.
“Taking 100 steps per minute is brisk walking. Or figure 3 miles per hour. Twelve city blocks in a mile,” she said. “You should feel like you’re exercising. You should feel warm and breathe a little faster.”
There’s also the “talk test.” “You’re walking at a good pace if you are not so out of breath you can’t talk to someone.”
The idea is to get your heart rate up to a certain level. You can figure out what it should be by subtracting your age from 220. At age 40 people are on the cusp of developing bad habits that can lead to deadly disease.
“If you start walking now, you can still reduce your blood pressure, prevent diabetes, and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke,” she said.
How to find time to walk
Most people can work some walking time into their daily lives, it was suggested parking farther away from work or taking time during a lunch hour.
The health benefits from walking are so well-known that many organizations and charities sponsor walks to raise funds and awareness. (HL)