If your weight has gone up during the past couple of years and cholesterol and blood pressure have followed suit, it can seem like a lot to tackle.
But the first step to reversing those trends is closer than you might think. It is literally right there in front of you, so step toward it.
Putting one foot in front of the other as often as possible is a great way to lose extra weight, reduce blood pressure, and fight back against a host of potential health issues.
There is no shortage of evidence to show that walking improves heart and brain health, blood sugar levels, reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease, and helps people live longer. It can also be done virtually anywhere, including inside your home.
When it comes to walking, however, there can be some confusion about just how much, how long, and how intensely it should be done. One expert has come up with an acronym – FIT – to help you remember.
It stands for Frequency, Intensity, and Time.
Frequency can be pretty simple: the more you walk, the better. Ideally, you want to walk for about 30 minutes per day, totalling about 150 minutes per week. But you don’t have to get that 30-minutes all in one chunk. Five, ten, or fifteen-minute intervals are all fine and will offer the same benefits.
Anything to break up extended periods of being sedentary is what you’re going for.
Intensity can influence time. Recommendations for at least 150 minutes per week pertain to moderate intensity exercise. That number goes down to 67 if it’s vigorous.
How do you tell the difference? Moderate intensity means you can hold a conversation, but it is difficult because you’re breathing heavily. When it’s vigorous, you’re not able to hold a conversation at all.
Now you don’t need to do vigorous exercise. Research shows, however, that you’ll want to walk at least 3 miles per hour or 2 miles per hour if you’re going uphill. If it takes longer than 24 minutes to walk a mile, you’ll need to boost speed (over time) to get benefits.
In terms of steps, any number is good if it’s more than you were doing. There is data suggesting that 7,000 per day is associated with a host of benefits, so that might be something to shoot for.
Getting started is literally as easy as taking the first step. With each passing day, it will get easier.