Exercise Right!
with Jacques Courseault, M.D.

The First Step to Success: Committing to More than Yourself
How to Begin an Exercise Regimen
Walk Your Way to Better Health
How to Begin a Walking Program
Eating and Exercise: What to eat and when to eat it
Weight, Lean Body Mass and Exercise
Strong Muscles Fight Disease
How to Exercise with Disabled or Weak Legs
How to Conserve Muscle Mass During Weight Loss
How to Build Muscle Mass
How to Build Muscular Endurance
Exercise Ideas: Play Video Games!
Exercise Improves Eating Habits


Walk Your Way to Better Health

a pair of comfortable walking shoes

Walking is a simple, low-impact exercise that you can do to improve your health and fitness. No instruction manual is needed, and a walking coach will not be necessary. Walking is one of the first natural exercises that you learn to do from a young age. Therefore, you should be a walking professional at this point in your life. Monitor your walking volume with a pedometer to be sure that you gain the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps per day.

Manage your Weight

Walking 10,000 steps per day (about 5 five miles) can help you manage your weight. You must burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. For every one-mile, or 2,000 steps, that you walk per day you will burn 70 to 100 calories depending on your weight and the intensity of your physical activity. Therefore, walking 10,000 steps will burn about 500 calories per day or 3,500 calories in a week resulting in a one-pound weight loss.

The Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto (Clin Invest Med 2007, 30(3): E146-E151) looked at multiple studies to determine the average number of daily steps. For many people, 4,000 to 6,000 steps per day is normal. Therefore, walking an additional 4,000 to 6,000 steps is necessary to achieve the 10,000 steps per day goal. In addition to walking, this goal can be achieved by participating in recreational sports, cleaning the house, gardening, taking the stairs, parking further away, walking the dog or playing with your kids or grandkids. Incorporate these methods of increasing your physical activity into your daily routine to control your overall weight.

Improve Your Blood Pressure

Researchers in a 2007 review article (JAMA 2007, 298(19): 2296-2304), decided to see if there was a relationship between walking with a pedometer and blood pressure. They reviewed 26 different studies to see if using a pedometer would increase the number of steps compared to those who did not use a pedometer. On average, those who used a pedometer increased their steps by 2,500 per day. In addition, they noted that those who increased their steps had a 3.8 mmHg decrease in systolic and a .3 mm HG decrease is diastolic blood pressure.? Therefore, by walking an additional 2,000 steps per day you can significantly improve the health of your cardiovascular system.

Improve Your Mood

A brisk walk can improve your mood after a long day of work, according to a 2005 study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin (Med Sci Sports Exer 2005, 37(12): 2032-2037). They looked at 15 men and 25 women, 18 to 55 years of age, who have been recently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Half were instructed to perform a brisk walk for 30 minutes, while the other half were instructed to rest quietly in a comfortable chair for 30 minutes. Although both groups noticed an improvement in mood, the greatest improvement was seen in the group that performed a brisk walk. These results are encouraging and further suggest that even a single bout of exercise can improve your mood.

What This Means For You

Setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps per day has a host of health benefits from looking and feeling better to improving heart health. Combined with healthy food choices, increasing your physical activity are practical changes that you can make to improve your well being.

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