Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Move in the Right Direction

We hear a lot about how exercise or general activity is important in our health and well-being. The government recommends 60-90 minutes each day and other experts contend even 30-minutes a day is good. The research available shows that physical activity reduces risks and improves health.

So, what stops so people from starting an exercise routine or just being more active?

You guessed it - time!

But, consider this - simply walking each day can be your first step to better health! All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and you're all set to step out and get moving in the right direction!

If you want to enhance the benefit, research shows that listening to music while you walk actually increases your pace - which increases the calories burned and weight lost!

Researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., asked 41 women, who weighed an average of 192 pounds, to follow a program that included limiting calories, walking and attending weekly group meetings. The sessions were followed by a group walk. Half of the women were given portable CD players with headsets and told to listen to the music of their choice every time they walked. The other group did so with no music.

After six months, the results were:
  • The music-listening group adhered more closely to the walking program than the non-music group. Its members lost an average of 16 pounds and 4% of their body fat.
  • The non-music group dropped an average 8 pounds and 2% body fat.

If you feel you don't have time to start a formal walking program, consider getting yourself a pedometer - for a week, track how many steps you take each day and then find ways to add more steps each day into your daily routine. Most agree that 10,000 steps each day is a good target to shoot for over time - that is 5-miles of walking each day.

You may be surprised by your results - many people only take between 2,000 and 5,000 steps each day. If you're one of them, increasing that to 10,000 steps may feel overwhelming, but can be done slowly over time.

Simple changes in your daily routine can add steps very quickly without taking a lot more time - parking further from the entrance, taking the elevator instead of the stairs, even just walking to the mailbox instead of parking the car and getting the mail as you arrive home all make a difference at the end of the day. Over time small changes add up and soon you can be taking 10,000 steps each day while enhancing your health!

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