Running For Life

by Brenda Morales 

Running is not only good for your soul; it is also good for your heart and overall health. Scientific evidence proves that regular exercise, particularly running, approximately 30 minutes at least five times a week has health benefits that extend well beyond any medication a doctor could prescribe. Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and other unpleasant health conditions.

If you are not a runner, or maybe you’ve had an injury and can’t run then just walk – every step you take is part of your journey to good health. In fact, walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as much as running, according to a new study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National, Life Science Division in Berkeley, California. This is because the most important factor is not the intensity of your workout but the total energy used, so as long as the energy used is similar, the health boost is similar as well.

Maybe you’ve been sedentary for a while, and that’s no problem, just start slow. Even if it’s just a five or ten minute walk per day, it’s still better than nothing. Focus on setting goals for yourself and then you can work toward your overall goal of perhaps 30 minutes a day by increasing your time and distance as you get in better shape. Once you feel comfortable and want more of a challenge you can try adding handle and/or ankle weights to help pick up the intensity while maintaining a slower pace.

Try to get more walking by taking your dog out for a stroll through the neighborhood, or spending quality time with your family at the park. At work, you can try taking a fifteen minute walk after your lunch or during your break, or park farther away from your office and use the stairs instead of the elevator.

Before you know it, brisk walking can become a part of your daily routine. The best type of activity for your heart is moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and that includes brisk walking. Therefore, whether it’s walking, jogging, or running, staying active will help control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and improve your mental health. Start walking today!

American Heart Association. “Walking Versus Running for Hypertension, Cholesterol, and Diabetes Mellitus Risk Reduction” http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/04/04/ATVBAHA.112.300878.abstract