Health Team

Walking for exercise can help ward off life-threatening diseases

Posted May 3, 2016 8:44 a.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2016 9:28 a.m. EDT

Cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease are all potentially life-threatening problems and rank among the top causes of death.

Doctors say there a simple solution, though, that could help ward off the diseases: walking.

Those same serious diseases are often linked to obesity, high cholesterol and uncontrolled hypertension. Walking is the simplest way to reduce obesity and improve overall health.

Starting at less than 30 minutes a day, walkers can lower their blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, lower the risk of diabetes, strengthen bones, burn calories and even lift their moods.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends if a person has serious health issues or is older than 40 and have been inactive recently, talk to a doctor first.  

Beginners on a walking program should make it a goal to walk at least five days a week.

» For the first week, walk for 15 minutes a day.

» Start out by warming up with a slow pace for five minutes and then speed up until you're walking about 3 to 4 miles per hour for five minutes.

» For the final five minutes, slow down so your body can cool down.

» Add about two minutes to your walking time each week.

Doctors say to get into that walking routine before adding other exercises to the routine. Once people establish a regular routine, other exercises, such as strength training, can be added.

The Department of Health and Human services recommends that healthy adults include at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity—or an equivalent combination of vigorous and moderate aerobic workouts—into their daily routines.

With strength training, try to exercise all the major muscle groups at least twice a week, which can be as simple as push-ups or lunges.

But, even just walking regularly help people lose weight, strengthen their hearts and reduce the risk of life-threatening disease.

There is no better time to start than right now.