Walk Your Way to a Healthy Heart
A walk a day keeps a heart attack and stroke at bay. Really!
You should aim to walk briskly for 30-60 min.
at least five days a week.
That’s right—improving your health with physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean signing up for spin classes or training for half-marathons (although those can be great ways to get in shape!). Walking is aerobic exercise—which means it gets your heart pumping—and is one of the easiest ways to kickstart an exercise regimen and lower your risk for heart disease and other health conditions that increase your chances of heart attack or stroke.
Studies have shown that men and women who walk regularly can significantly lower their risk for stroke; one study found that women who walked over three hours a week were 43 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t engage in any physical activity; another study found that men who walked for an hour or two could possibly lower their stroke risk by one-third, while those who walked for three or more hours lowered their risk by two-thirds.
Researchers also found that walking can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 9.3 percent. Additionally, the study showed that the benefits of walking are no less significant than those for running, which means you don’t necessarily have to move faster to improve your health.
So why is walking so good for you?
Physical activity increases your heart rate, strengthens your heart muscle and improves blood circulation throughout your body. It also lowers your blood pressure, improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels and helps your lungs take in oxygen —all of which can lower your risk for diabetes, hypertension and a myriad of health issues.
Additionally, mild exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, fight depression, prevent osteoporosis and boost your immune system.
According to guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, you should aim to walk briskly (about three to four miles per hour) for 30 to 60 minutes at least five days a week. Unfortunately, however, less than one-third of Americans meet the minimal recommendations for activity.
Other ways to lower your risk for heart attack and stroke include:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting regular health screenings
- Managing existing health conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol
- Limiting alcohol consumption to a maximum of two drinks a day
Crozer-Keystone offers prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support services for a variety of heart and vascular issues and offer experienced, high-quality, patient-centered heart and vascular care. To make an appointment, please call 866-957-8573 or fill out an online appointment request form.