Benefits of Walking on Bone Health, Mood, and Cardiovascular Health
Category: Health & Wellness
In a previous article, we reviewed the benefits walking had on low back and joint pain. Now we will focus on the benefits walking has on bone health, mood improvement and overall cardiovascular health.
Before we get started let’s review some key pointers on walking form::
• Maintain an upright posture with head centered between shoulders, shoulders relaxed, and slightly retracted, arms close to body with elbows bent to approximately 90 degrees, and core drawn in slightly. Maintaining proper posture while walking helps avoid injury and protect the back.
• Increase the time or distance that you are walking gradually to avoid injury. Only perform what your body is capable of and ensure that you can maintain a comfortable conversation throughout the exercise.
• If you begin to experience numbness, tingling, pain that travels down your leg, or a combination of those symptoms, discontinue the walking session and consult with your doctor. There are other exercises available that provide similar benefits to walking that can be performed pain free.
Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States of America, and stroke close is behind at number 5. The American Heart Association recommends that one performs at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to improve overall cardiovascular health. Walking has been proven to be beneficial in improving circulation of blood throughout the body. This lowers the risk of developing blood clots because the calves act as venous pumps that contract and pump blood from the feet and legs back to the heart which as a result reduces the load on the heart.
Those who maintain sedentary lifestyles are at a higher risk for developing blood clots. If this lifestyle is maintained they are at a higher risk for having a stroke as well. A recent study was performed on women ranging from 35 to 55 years of age. The experimental group was asked to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, whereas the control group remained sedentary. It was concluded that the women who walked for 30 minutes each day reduced their risk of stroke by 20%. Those who increased their walking pace reduced their risk of stroke by 40%.
Walking has also been proven to be beneficial in increasing overall cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate, lowering blood pressure and strengthening the heart. The average heart rate for adults is 60 to 90 beats per minute? During exercise, it is normal for a person’s heart rate to increase gradually. However, as the intensity of the exercise decreases or the exercise is completed, one’s heart rate should eventually return to normal.
Blood pressure is the driving force that moves blood throughout the circulatory system. The average blood pressure for adults is 120/80 mmHg. A blood pressure that reads higher is considered to be hypertensive. Those experiencing hypertension are at a higher risk for stroke and heart attacks. Hypertension can be a result of many factors including, but not limited to, obesity, smoking, diet high in salt/fat and kidney disease.
Phases of hypertension:
Pre-hypertension: 120-139/80-89 mmHg (warning to watch blood pressure)
Hypertension stage 1: 140-159/90-99 mmHg
Hypertension stage 2: 160+/100+ mmHg
By exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet one’s risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke decreases significantly.
In our previous article, we discussed the impact of walking on enhancing mood. Exercise stimulates the release of serotonin and endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, which improve mood and decrease pain. These natural opiates block pain receptors decreasing or eliminating pain as a result.
Walking has also been shown to slow down mental decline in older adults. A recent study was performed on 6,000 women, ages 65 and older. The experimental group consisted of women who walked 2.5 miles/day, whereas the control group consisted of women who walked a half mile or less per week. The study was performed over a 12-week period and results were compared upon completion. The women that walked 2.5 miles/day had a 17% decline in memory compared to those who walked a half of a mile or less per week who experienced a 25% decline in memory.
Finally, walking has been proven to be beneficial in strengthening bones. It also helps decrease the bone loss that comes with osteoporosis, a common bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone and does not make enough bone to replace it.4 Bones become weak and frail and one is at a higher risk for a fracture or break.
Osteoporosis can affect both males and females but is more common in post-menopausal women due to the decrease in estrogen.4 A recent study was performed on post-menopausal women who were asked to walk for 30 minutes/day over a 12-week period.3 Upon completion of the study, it was concluded that their bone mass increased and their risk of hip fracture decreased by 40%.3 The compression forces that occur while walking allow the bones to maintain or increase mass. Those who remain sedentary are more likely to experience a decrease in bone mass due to the non-compressive forces occurring. As a result, their bones will be frailer and they are at a higher risk for fracture.
It can be difficult with a busy schedule to make time for a workout every day. But remember, walking is free and it can be done at anywhere and anytime. If possible, try to set time in your work schedule to walk. It does not have to be 30 minutes of consistent walking. Break up the time if you need to. Walk on your lunch break or walk when taking a conference call. By remaining sedentary and not getting up and moving you are putting your body at risk for a variety of different diseases as well as placing abnormal stress on normal joints, tissues and bones. So do your body a favor and get up and walk! Trust us, you will not regret it!
If you would like help and or guidance developing a hand-tailored fitness program that considers your own unique needs, please contact our team - support@EnFuseFitness.com
We hope that you find this article helpful!
EnFuse Fitness, located in Enfield, Connecticut, is a veteran and family-owned private personal training studio that offers Pilates, yoga, deep tissue & sports massage, meal prep, and nutritional counseling services.
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