Walking is simple. It is easy and you can just get on with it without planning and preparing for it. This is also the best form of physical activity. And, the best thing is that it can offer a host of health benefits too. Besides keeping your body slim and trim, it can also keep many diseases at bay.
According to researchers, people who were able to walk for several blocks at a leisurely pace enjoy a vibrant, healthy life. Being able to walk at even a slow speed is essential for these benefits but walking too slowly may predict future problems that could cause mobility issues later in life.
VERY SLOW WALK CAN CAUSE MOBILITY PROBLEMS: EXPERTS
According to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, US, being able to walk at even a slow speed is essential for a healthy life. But too slow a walk can cause mobility problems later in life. They assessed ways to measure complex walking tasks to learn more about early, subtle changes in walking. They saw that slow walking speed under both usual-pace and complex conditions was associated with a greater risk for developing mobility disability. This study was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
WALKING SPEED CAN PREDICT FUTURE MOBILITY ISSUES: STUDY
Information from the Health Aging and Body Composition study, conducted from 1997 to 1998, was analysed by the Pittsburgh researchers before they arrived at this conclusion. A total of 337 participants, between the ages of 70 to 79 years, exhibited no difficulty walking a quarter mile or climbing 10 steps without resting. Researchers saw that participants with mobility disability were more likely to be female, diabetic and obese. People with knee pain, breathing difficulty and depression were also more likely to acquire mobility problems in future.
The participants had to walk on several different paths. They were also given several different challenges to measure their walking speed and their ability to cope with mental and physical tasks at the same time. Researchers then followed up with participants every six months to see if they had any difficulty walking one-quarter mile due to a health or physical problem.
It was seen that participants experienced some mobility problems or disabilities every year at in-person visits. By the end of the eight-year follow-up, more than half of the participants suffered from mobility disability, meaning they were unable to walk one-quarter mile. And, around 40 per cent developed chronic mobility disability that lasted at least two years.
Hence, researchers concluded that measuring walking speed may be enough to predict future mobility problems.
HOW CAN WALKING HELP IN SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES?
According to the Greek physician Hippocrates, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” And, research proves that he was right. Walking is good for you. There is no doubt about that. It helps to control diabetes, prevent heart disease, decrease high blood pressure and increase bone density. We reveal how this simple exercise can help you deal with some serious health conditions.
Walking is great for cardiovascular problems. It not only keeps the heart healthy but also prevents complications later on in life. But if you are already a patient of heart disease, you need to keep certain things in mind.
The American Heart Association recommends brisk walking (at least 4 kilometres per hour) for heart patients. However, this depends on physical conditions. If you are not used to any kinds of exercises, start slow and gradually build up your speed. If you feel uneasy, contact your doctor immediately.
Brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level and an ideal body weight. This is good for people who have diabetes. A brisk 30-minute walk (at least 5 to 6 kilometres per hour) five days a week is ideal, according to the American Diabetes Association. But check with your doctor first.
But, if you are diabetic, you need to take certain precautions. Before walking, check your sugar level. If it is too low, eat something and wait for some time. In case it is too high, postpone your walk until your blood sugar level lowers. If you go for a long walk, carry something to eat in case you feel your sugar levels dropping. Also wear comfortable footwear.
This is a painful condition. Walking can be difficult and painful. But it can also give you some relief. Start slow and take a leisurely 10-minute stroll. The idea is not to put pressure on your joints. Add a few minutes your walk every day. You should aim for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. But you can also break it up into 10 minutes each. Then rest and start again. Don’t push yourself just because everyone says brisk walking is good. Walk slowly so as not to put pressure on your joints. But again, consult your doctor.
If you have high blood pressure, walking is perfect for you. If you have hypertension, walk for 40 minutes every day. Brisk walking is usually recommended for patients of hypertension. But again, this depends on your physical condition. If you experience shortness of breath or pain in chest or feel dizzy, slow your pace. Consult a doctor before starting your walking routine.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Walking is a safe form of exercise. But you may need to take certain precautions if you have a serious health problem. If you are diabetic or suffer from hypertension, start a walking programme only after consulting your doctor. You may face problems if you suddenly start walking after leading a very sedentary lifestyle if you are above 50 years of age. So, talk to a health professional first.
Consult your doctor immediately if you feel dizzy, faint or experience shortness of breath while walking. Pain in the chest, neck, shoulder or arm pain also call for a doctor’s advice.