As a rule, we don’t like to use the word, “exercise,” when we talk about finding ways to become more physically active. We’ve all seen the National guidelines urging all Americans to engage in "moderate physical activity" at least 2.5 hours a week, or 30 minutes a day, five days a week. So, instead of "exercise," let’s talk about . . . Walking.
A new study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine points out that most people are familiar with the recommendation to get 30 minutes of exercise (there’s that “e” word) most days, but that fewer people know that means moderate intensity, and fewer still know what “moderate” means.
Now we know. The study finds moderate means the equivalent of a brisk walk, and “brisk” means about 1,000 steps every 10 minutes (that’s 100 steps a minute). It’s important to note that while many people measure their steps with a pedometer, the study also found that about half the pedometers on the market aren’t accurate.
But, “moderate” is also defined as the pace where you noticeably increase your heart rate and breathing rate, yet are still capable of speaking in full sentences. No pedometer required.
Need more to sell you on the benefits of walking? Walking briskly for one mile in 15 minutes burns about the same number of calories as jogging an equal distance in 8.5 minutes. And walking an extra 20 minutes each day will burn off 7 pounds of body fat per year. With each step you take, you will be helping to prevent chronic health conditions. As you walk off extra pounds you’ll also be doing your knees a big favor. For every pound of weight lost there is a four-pound reduction in the load placed on the knee joint with each step. The accumulated reduction in knee load for a one-pound loss in weight would be more than 4,800 pounds per mile walked. Lose 10 pounds and your knees would be subjected to 48,000 less pounds of pressure per mile.
Maybe it’s time to start thinking about lacing up those walking shoes?