Posted in: Health and Fitness

Heart Healthy Moves for Everyone

To be physically active and to eat a healthy diet are some of the most critical actions you can take to improve your health and quality of life. The American government feels so strongly about this that it has combined the complementary contents of two department publications to provide guidance on the importance of being physically active and eating a healthy diet. The purpose of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publication, “The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans”, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publication “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans”, is to promote good health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases among Americans.

According to their guidelines bodily movement is divided into the two broad categories of baseline activities and health-enhancing activities. Standing, walking slowly, and lifting lightweight objects are considered baseline activities and vary from person to person. It is the intentional addition of a health-enhancing physical activity to your baseline activity produces the desired health benefits. Heart healthy moves, also called motion fitness, are exercises of varying intensities that are intended keep your heart functioning at optimum capacity. A health-enhancing activity such as walking for exercise opens the door to unlimited health benefits. The published Federal Guidelines for aerobic exercise (also known as cardio exercise) recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days per week or 150 minutes a week. These guidelines offer helpful strategies on a wide range of physical activities that provide important health benefits. Walking for exercise fits the criteria easily. To walk for exercise lowers risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus, and heart disease and other chronic diseases. It also improves blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress, and comes with the added bonus of weight loss.

Most sports require a certain level of competence and fitness, but walking for exercise has no learning curve requirements, and it is something most people can easily do at any time. Walking is a low impact exercise, because your feet don’t pound the ground. Also to walk for exercise is cost effective because it is free. There is no need for membership fees or gym equipment purchases. The experts also recommend that you make walk for exercise a part of your motion fitness program.

Brisk walking is motion fitness without a gym. How you walk does make a significant difference in the benefits you gain from this activity. Race-walk coaches suggest the application a few simple techniques to your brisk walk routine can convert your walk for exercise into an aerobic experience. To walk faster take faster steps instead of longer strides, and to increase your speed bend your elbows and pump your arms beside your trunk as you walk. When you feel the need for more speed and more power roll your foot to your toes, and push with the ball of your foot and toes as you go; be sure to land each step on your heel first, and not the entire foot at once. Use these techniques when you want to convert a moderate intensity walk into an aerobic exercise and/or fat burn machine and reap the rewards of increased energy, improved stamina, and a heightened mental focus.