We know the following phrases by heart: “Metabolism slows as you age.” “Regular exercise helps you lose weight and build bone density.” “Menopause … ”
Well, let’s just say we can’t remember the last time someone had something good to say about the real benefits of menopause. (Trust us, they do exist!) Now we have another catchphrase to add to this list: Walking faster is better. Check out these three reasons why.
It promotes healthy weight loss.
As much as we wish it were so, long-term, healthy weight loss and the many benefits that accompany it don’t happen by dieting alone. They happen by dieting and exercising. And by exercising, we mean walking.
We aren’t just talking about a casual amble here — we mean a purposeful stride of at least four miles per hour. Who are we to turn down a chance at healthier hearts, toned muscles, less extra weight around our middles, and the chance to live longer?
Fast walking reduces stress.
Remember the ad campaign, “Got Milk”? Well, we could easily substitute “stress” in for “milk,” because if you don’t have it or never have, you haven’t lived. Point is, everyone alive has experienced stress, and the negative health effects are often brutal. (Guess what else regular exercise helps to manage?)
Because a certain amount of stress is inevitable, it’s wise to consider ways to counteract it. Walking and physical activity can add years to your life — if only because exercise reduces stress.
It reduces your risk of heart disease.
In a recent study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on the benefits of speed walking, participants “who walked at an average pace or a fast pace had 27 percent and 34 percent lower risks of heart failure.” The fact that moderate to intense physical activity will likely improve your heart health is not exactly news, but evidence of this claim is only growing. The changing hormone levels that occur for menopausal and postmenopausal women often cause heart palpitations and increased cholesterol levels that can put them at greater risk for cardiac-related illness.
This doesn’t mean exercise is the end-all, be-all. Eating a healthy diet will help with these potential symptoms, and if you add in daily, moderate to fast-paced walking, all the better.
Just keep this in mind as you start out: Any walking is better than no walking at all. You can always up your speed as you get comfortable, but going step by step — pun intended — will help you stick to your routine without getting overwhelmed by your own unrealistic expectations. You can do this.