This week’s “Ask Dr. Walt” question comes from “Want to Move in Montana.” Dear Dr. Walt, I’m kind of set in my ways, but I think I’d like to begin an exercise program but am not sure what’s best — walking or running?
Believe it or not, you don’t have to walk or run! An 18-year study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that even low-intensity physical activity such as gardening and housework can improve your heart health.
Psychologist John Hackston wrote, “People tend to think that there’s one best way to go about an exercise routine, but one-size-fits-all doesn’t apply here. Instead, it’s important to know who you are and select a type of exercise that fits.” He adds, “From a behavior change perspective, the more you enjoy the activity, the more likely you are to stick with it.”
As far as walking versus running, I always recommend starting with walking. How long? Experts now believe they have determined “the exact amount of time we need to spend walking in order to look after our hearts.”
Findings published in the Journal of Physiology “found varying amounts of exercise can affect different-sized arteries.”
For instance, “the study found exercising two to three days a week for 30 minutes may help minimize stiffening in middle-sized arteries, while larger central arteries will stay youthful when you exercise four to five days a week.”
Until recently, healthcare professionals felt that the remedy for being sedentary — for what is now called sitting disease — was working out, especially with formal exercise sessions. But new research is changing that thinking.
As it turns out, just being up and about throughout the day can be as healthy for you as a workout.
Ten minutes of brisk walking each day (even split among more than one walking session) could be enough to reduce your risk of early death, according to a study of more than 334,000 European men and women.
The researchers tell us, “Literally any exercise is better than none.” Hippocrates said, “Walking is man’s best medicine,” and science agrees.
You can learn more about overcoming the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle (or what some call, “Sitting Disease”) in my books, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices for a Healthier, Happier You or 10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2022. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.